New book chronicles history of St. Croix Valley farms

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Spanning 100 years of history, Hudson resident Kristina Boucher's first book was a puzzle of many pieces.

"I just tried to piece the puzzle together," she said.

The book "Lost Farms of the St. Croix Valley" is an agriculture study of farmers on both sides of the river that spans from 1860 to 1960.

It was born out of curiosity. A fan of photography, Boucher would spend afternoons driving around back country roads, taking photos of the old barns. She found a beauty to them, and wanted to know the story behind them.

"I wondered why they were abandoned," she said.

With plenty of research, she started to find answers, and thought she wouldn't be the only one who would want to hear them. She worked with Arcadia Publishing to create the book.

As the number of small farms dwindle, Boucher said it was important for her to highlight the ones in her area and to tell their stories.

"We almost lose a sense of community," Boucher said. "It's a huge piece of our local history that's almost gone missing."

The topic is a personal one for her, as her family owns a dairy farm in East Farmington. She's seen the farm downsize, and now watches as her aunt and uncle run it while also working full time jobs.

"Farmers are very underappreciated," she said. "I kind of wanted to shed light on how important they are."

She started from home. Boucher's first interview was with her uncle. She followed him around asking questions as he milked the cows on the family dairy farm, getting manure on her notebook.

After that Boucher visited with many different farmers in the area, working to put together the puzzle pieces of the St. Croix Valley. Boucher would go out with her grandmother to "barn hop," driving around rural areas and knocking on farm doors to meet new subjects.

"It was kind of an adventure," Boucher said.

For many farmers, Boucher was the first to ever ask their story. Many people are disconnected from agriculture, Boucher said, and don't understand the work that goes into it.

"Not enough people ask these farmers what it was like," she said. "They just love sharing their stories."

In addition to person stories, the book features about 200 photos from throughout the history of St. Croix Valley farms.

"There's so much history around here," Boucher said.

With the publication of "Lost Farms in the St. Croix Valley," Boucher has fulfilled one of her childhood dreams. Growing up surrounded by books, she always wanted to write one of her own. Her mother has boxes of little books Boucher wrote her as a child. Now, she has four copies of "Lost Farms in the St. Croix Valley."

"It's a dream come true for me but it's also an honor to be able to share these stories," she said.

Though she had farming connections, she never imagined her first book would be about agriculture.

"The topic just kind of spoke to me," she said.

Boucher said she plans to continue writing in the future, and she's currently working on a fiction novel.

Until then, "Lost Farms in the St. Croix Valley," is available locally at Chapter 2 Books, at the Ellsworth Creamery and online at arcadiapublishing.com.