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Ric’s Best Of 2015: Syrup, Snowflakes, Cherries, Mt. Independence And An American Canadian

Producer Ric Cengeri shares his choices for the best Vermont Edition segments of 2015.

Each day this week, we are handing the reins over to a member of the Vermont Edition team, who will share their favorite segments from the past year!

We close out our Best of 2015 week with producer RicCengeri’s selection of the best Vermont Edition segments of this year.

The Science of Maple Syrup

Check out the full piece.

Native Vermonters seem to know the stats from birth: It takes 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon on maple syrup. The sap flows best when the temperatures hit the 40s during the day and below freezing at night.

In March, we looked at the scientific explanation for the atmospheric conditions and finagling in the sugarhouse that gets the sap from the tree into a bottle with a composition of just about 66.9 percent sugar content.

Why highlight this piece?

Syrup season is just around the corner and if the relatively mild winter thus far is any indication of what’s to come, it could mean a shift in how much syrup is harvested this spring.

Celebrating Snowflake Bentley In Pictures

Check out the full piece.

In honor of his 150th birthday in February, we looked at the photography of Vermonter, Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley. Bentley grew up in the village of Nashville, Vt., where he would live his entire life as a farmer. But his love of meteorology and photography led him to an important discovery in 1885: how to photograph snowflakes.

Credit Wilson A. Bentley / UVM Special Collections
UVM Special Collections
Bentley removing a slide for making an exposure in his camera-microscope to photograph a snowflake, circa 1929.

For the next 46 years, he dedicated his life to photographing more than 5,000 of the beautiful snow crystals.

Why highlight this piece?

In addition to being a great segment to listen to, there is also an incredible collection of photos from Bentley’s life, as well as slides of his snowflakes available at the segment's page

Mount Independence: The Sometimes Forgotten Fort

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Mount Independence housed three times as many soldiers as Fort Ticonderoga in 1776, and yet, when it comes to Revolutionary-era forts on Lake Champlain, Mount Independence seems to get short shrift behind others, like Fort Ticonderoga.

The Mount Independence visitors’ center is shaped like an overturned boat.

In August, we spoke with site interpreter Paul Andriscin about the fort’s visitor center and Vermont's Revolutionary War history.

Why highlight this piece?

Mount Independence in Orwell is one of just nine state historic sites that are maintained for visitors, where locals and tourists alike can learn about Vermont's history. 

Becoming Canadian: A Vermonter's Experience With Two Cultures

Check out the full piece.

Rebecca Grenier is an American citizen. She was born and grew up in Vermont, but in 2009, a law change made by the Canadian government suddenly gave her and her father citizenship, making her both Canadian and American. In March, she joined Vermont Edition to explain her newfound citizenship.

In 2009, the Canadian government declared that parents were not allowed to forfeit the citizenship of Canadian minors. Grenier's father had immigrated to the US when he was just 8 months old. And, at the time, his family had to give up their Canadian citizenship in order to become Americans. But when the law changed, her father regained his citizenship.

That meant Grenier, as the child of a Canadian citizen, was Canadian too.

“I sent away for [my father’s] birth certificate to prove he was born in Canada, then sent away for his Canadian citizenship certificate and my own.”  - Rebecca Grenier

Why highlight this piece?

Grenier’s story of straddling the fence between the U.S. and Canada is a can’t miss interview from 2015. As she so wisely put it during our conversation, "My family's Canadian. It's part of why I am who I am, and why my family is who they are."

Cherry Picking Season In Vermont: Short, But Delicious

Check out the full piece.

When planning a visit to a pick-your-own farm, most people think of strawberry patches or apple orchards. But what about the cherry orchards? Only a few farms around Vermont offer pick-your-own cherries, and the window for peak produce is brief — about two weeks.

In July we spoke with Bob Douglas, Jr. of Douglas Orchard & Cider Mill in Shoreham. The Orchard has 100 cherry trees available to those looking to pick their own bounty during the end of June and early July. Sweet cherries make up a majority of the trees, but the orchard does provide a few sour cherry trees for those interested in pie making.

According to Douglas, the scarcity of cherry picking opportunities in Vermont is a side effect of our harsh winters.

"[Cherries] are kind of iffy to grow around here," Douglas says.  "Usually the trees don't survive the cold winters. But just because of our lucky location here I guess they've done well."

Why highlight this piece?

As Doug Whitney of Arizona put it when we caught up with him at the Orchard in July, "The food's only half of it — we're here for the experience and the time. This will be a day I will long remember, unlike a trip to the grocery store."

Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
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