Book: The Nature of the Place: A History of Living with the Land in Columbia County, NY (2014) by Conrad Vispo, Adonis Press, 261 pp.
This book is an exciting invitation to explore the rich heritage and nature of Columbia County, and our place within it. It describes forest, field, soil and waters of our County both from the perspective of the diversity and beauty of their inherent nature and also in terms of the way the human head and hand has, for better or worse, left its mark. In the words of John Barnes (editor and publisher of the book): "Written out of love and appreciation both for the land and its human residents - with a contagious empathy that reveals itself not least through its subtle humor - this book is full of original observations as well as historical and factual information. Though based on past history and present condition, it also seeks to uncover the future potential of Columbia County, and it calls upon its readers not only to appreciate its past and enjoy it in the present, but also to become active participants in forming its future."
While the paper version is currently out-of-print (although a few copies may still lurk in area bookstores), here's a free .pdf copy.
What is a KYPP Nugget you might ask? KYPP stands for the Know Your Place Project, and these nuggets are brief thematic excursions into various aspects of our landscape. They consisted of our monthly Perspectives on Place column in The Columbia Paper, and some background information and ruminations on that theme.
If you have comments or observations, please send them our way, and we'll post them with the respective columns.
- Landscape Colors (Intro) – by Conrad Vispo, 11/24/2009
- Signs of Change: Reflections from a Winter Landscape (Climate Change) – by Anna Duhon, 12/24/2009
- Of Beetles – by Conrad Vispo, 1/21/2010
- Fields of Winter Rye (Local Grains) – by Anna Duhon, 2/18/2010
- Echoes New and Old (Changing Wildlife) – by Conrad Vispo, 3/18/2010
- A Window into Sheep (Sheep) – by Anna Duhon, 4/15/2010
- Columbia County's Special Places (Special Places) – by Claudia Knab-Vispo, 5/20/2010
- From the Ground Up (Eco-Cultural Regions) – by Conrad Vispo, 6/17/2010
- Farms and Markets Blossom (Farmers' Markets) – by Anna Duhon, 7/15/2010
- Gardening with Native Plants on a Budget (Native Plant Gardens) – by Claudia Knab-Vispo, 8/19/2010
- Lab Coat and Artist's Smock (Science, Art and Ecology) – by Conrad Vispo, 9/16/2010
- Milling it Local (Local Wheat Processing) – by Anna Duhon, 10/28/2010
- Of Flies, Canals, Dirt, Money and Wheat (Local Wheat Growing History) – by Conrad Vispo, 12/2/2010
- Christmas Stew (Historical Christmas Food) – by Conrad Vispo, 12/23/2010
- Forests Under the Spell of Streams (Floodplain Forests) – by Claudia Vispo, 1/27/2011
- Reflections on a Community Food Survey (Community Food) – by Anna Duhon, 3/3/2011
- Two Old Foundations: Of Land as Wealth (Land Wealth) – by Conrad Vispo, 4/7/2011
- Spring Flowers are Welcome Signs of Season (Spring Flowers) – by Claudia Vispo, 5/5/2011
- Reflections on Who We Are, Where We Are, and What We Do (Flying Deer Presentation) – by Conrad Vispo, 6/9/2011
- Summer Visitors on the Farm (Agritourism) – by Anna Duhon, 6/30/2011
- Voices of the Land (Excerpts) – by Claudia Vispo, 9/22/2011
- Deep Diving (Exploring the Unknown) – by Conrad Vispo, 11/10/2011
- December Dance (Holiday Rituals) – by Anna Duhon, 12/22/2011
- Celebrating Ourselves: The Romance of the Mundane (Our Role in the Landscape) – by Conrad Vispo, 1/26/2012
- Spring Calling (Signs of Spring) – by Anna Duhon, 4/12/2012
- There is more to grass than lawn - and there could be more to lawn than grass (Grass) – by Claudia Vispo, April 2012
- Great Grandfather's Butterflies (Butterfly Accounts) – by Conrad Vispo, May 2012
- The Many Faces of Farming (New Farmers) – by Anna Duhon, 6/21/2012
- Ecology and Poetry (Poetry on the Land) – by Conrad Vispo, 9/13/2012
- The Joy of Exploration (Stories of Exploration) – by Claudia Vispo, 10/25/2012
Perspectives on Place column in The Columbia Paper.
The KYPP nugget approach faded away in 2012, but we have continued our occasional contributions to the Perspectives on Place column. Below are links to some of our essays. For a variety of reasons (including subsequent re-thinking), these may not be the exact content of what was actually published
- Best Book: Winter 1822 (Virgil's Georgics and Early U.S. Agriculture) - by Conrad Vispo, Jan. 2013
- Of Frogs and Vernal Pools (Some of the Amphibians of Mud Season) - by Claudia Knab-Vispo, Mar. 2013
- Wolves in the Woodlot (Wildness and Ancient Forests) - by Conrad Vispo, July 2013
- Hills the Color of Elytra (Taxonomy as Color) - by Conrad Vispo, Nov. 2013
- Our Train (Amtrak and Our Place in Nature) - by Conrad Vispo, Feb. 2014
- Small Places (Little Lives?) - Conrad Vispo, June 2014
- Autumn Reading (Observation) - by Conrad Vispo, Oct. 2014
- Apples, Chestnuts and Bob Harris-san (Apples and Land Use History) - by Conrad Vispo, Dec. 2014
- Our Changing Forest (Part 1) (The Long View of Forest Composition) - by Claudia Knab-Vispo, Mar. 2015
- Our Changing Forest (Part 2): Hemlock (The Future of Hemlock in Our Forests) - by Claudia Knab-Vispo, April 2015
- The Merry Dancers (Magnetic and Human History) - by Conrad Vispo, Dec. 2015
- Ruminations While Metal Detecting (Rusty Nails and the Anthropocene) - by Conrad Vispo, Mar. 2016
- Nature and Reason Harmonized in the Pursuit of Practical Husbandry (Agriculture in the Ecological Landscape) - by Conrad Vispo, Sept 2016
- Brother Shrew (The Lives of Other Animals) - by Conrad Vispo, Dec. 2016
- Natural Monuments (Human Constructs and the Condition of Nature) - by Conrad Vispo, April 2017
- Book of the Year - 1907 (Let It Snow) - by Conrad Vispo, Dec. 2017
- The Imperfections of Beetles (Beetle Morphology and Preconceptions) - by Conrad Vispo, April 2018
Other Published Essays and Articles
- Tomatoes in the Wilderness and Broccoli in the Spiders -- by Conrad Vispo, The Natural Farmer, Spring 2013 (An illustrated explanation of our approach to working with on-farm biodiversity.)
- Windows onto the Farmscape: Becoming part of the story -- by Anna Duhon, History at the Table blog, January 25, 2013 (A reflection on FEP's work)
- Ecology in the Field of TIme: Two Centuries of Interaction between Agriculture and Native Species in Columba County, NY -- by Conrad Vispo and Claudia Knab-Vispo. A chapter in the book Environmental History of the Hudson Valley, edited by R.E. Henshaw and F.F. Dunwell and published in 2011 by SUNY Press. There is also an unpublished version of this chapter that has more color, illustrations and words.
- An Environmental Atlas of Columbia County - FEP, we put this together with the editors of the Claverack-based newspaper, Our Town; it gives a general overview of the County's history and ecology.
- The More You Learn, The Less You Know - by Conrad Vispo, Our Town, Winter 2008 (Some thoughts on what we don’t know) Also available through the Our Town online reader (pages 16 and 17 of the Winter 2008 issue).
A collection of newspaper articles we wrote deriving from our initial report on ponds in Columbia County.
- Pond Series (available as one PDF)
- The Life of a Pond by Conrad Vispo and Claudia Knab-Vispo, The Independent, July 13, 2007
- For Some Things, A Pond Is Home – by Conrad Vispo and Claudia Knab-Vispo, The Independent, July 20, 2007
- What Are Ponds For? – by Conrad Vispo and Claudia Knab-Vispo, The Independent, July 27, 2007
A collection of newspaper articles we wrote deriving from our initial report on on-farm biodiversity.
- Biodiversity Series (available as one PDF)
- Looking at Our Roots -- by Conrad Vispo and Claudia Knab-Vispo, The Independent, May 26, 2006
- Life on the Hedge -- by Conrad Vispo and Claudia Knab-Vispo, The Independent, June 2, 2006
- Perched on the Edge – by Conrad Vispo and Claudia Knab-Vispo, The Independent, June 16, 2006
- What Frogs Tell Us – by Conrad Vispo and Claudia Knab-Vispo, The Independent, June 23, 2006
- The Content of Streams -- by Conrad Vispo and Claudia Knab-Vispo, The Independent, June 30, 2006
- Reflections from a Farmscape -- by Conrad Vispo and Claudia Knab-Vispo, The Independent, July 7, 2006
- The Second Clearing – by Conrad Vispo, Plough and Star (Consideration of landscape change)
- From Where One Stands – by Conrad Vispo, Plough and Star (A ‘treatise’ on deer-stand architecture)
Unpublished Essays and Articles
- Columbia County/NYC Interactions: Flows of Nature, Agriculture, Ideas & People - by FEP (A 'catalogue' of our 2013 presentation on this theme in NYC)
- Some Thoughts on What we do and Why – by Conrad Vispo. 2013 (Reflections on the Farmscape Ecology Program’s place-based mission)
- On Golden Wings, or Blue – by Conrad Vispo (Warblers and Time)
- On Censusing Frogs in Late July – by Conrad Vispo (Mortality and a hot night)
- The March of Time, the Time of March – by Conrad Vispo (All sorts of weather)
- Of Pools and Plans – by Conrad Vispo (Vernal pool ruminations)