“Are you as active as a Vermont farmer?” campaign launched by Health Department

For Immediate Release: Oct. 9, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON - Jerry Smith, a lean, 45-year-old organic farmer in Guilford, Vt., has been overheard saying “Real Vermonters don’t run” as he sees a jogger running along the road. His wife, Lisa Holderness, believes he may change his mind after participating in the Get Moving Vermont “Are you as active as a Vermont farmer?” challenge.

“He maintains doing farm work is all exercise we need and we do have a much more active lifestyle than most people,” Holderness said. “But the benefit of doing focused exercise as opposed to handling daily responsibilities has a different feel to it. I believe, whatever works for people - that is what they should do.”

The goal of the “Are you as active as a Vermont farmer?” challenge is to improve overall health in every community by encouraging people of all ages to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. In addition to Smith and Holderness at Deer Ridge Farm, The Bessette family of Elgin Spring Dairy Farm in New Haven, and the staff at High Mowing Seeds in Wolcott, have agreed to wear pedometers and track their activity during a 12-week activity "challenge." Vermonters can sign up and form teams to see how their activity levels compare by going to www.getmoving.vermont.gov.

Smith and Holderness are wearing pedometers and will track their total number of steps. Keeping up with the married couple, owners of Deer Ridge Farm, won’t be easy as they routinely are on their feet from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The three-acre farm is a flurry of activity including picking and packing and loading of organic fruits, vegetables and flowers. The farm has no tractor and no log splitter, and still manages to pull sap from 1,800 taps for maple syrup, and burn more than 27 cords of wood each year. Syrup making and wood chopping are all part of keeping the farm alive and viable.

“We’re lucky to do our jobs every day we walk out the door and instead of getting into a car we walk out to the field and we are either walking or crawling or using human power to get most of the work done,” Holderness said. “We feel good at the end of the day.”

Vermonters are encouraged to log into the Get Moving Vermont website and challenge the three farms in the state that are participating in the challenge. Everyone who participates is eligible for prizes each week.

For more information about the challenge and to sign up and participate visit: www.getmoving.vermont.gov.

Get Moving Vermont! is a statewide initiative sponsored by the Vermont Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and The Vermont Department of Health.

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