The Gilfeather is an egg-shaped, rough-skinned root, but unlike its cousins has a mild taste that becomes sweet and creamy white after a frost or two. While the hardy Gilfeather turnip does well in nearly any climate, a touch of frost contributes to its unusual taste and texture. Developed and named after John Gilfeather (1865-1944) from Wardsboro in the southeastern corner of Vermont, this turnip is one of the state’s unique contributions to agriculture and the cold weather table. Mr. Gilfeather carefully guarded his stock; although he sold hundreds of turnips every year, he made sure that no one else could propagate the vegetable. However, some seeds slipped by and a few folks continued to grow them after Mr. Gilfeather died. After Mary Lou and Bill Schmidt grew their first crop from seed given to them by a friend, they researched the Gilfeather turnip. Finding it was unique to Vermont, they had it certified by both the Vermont and US Departments of Agriculture. For many years, the Schmidts were the only authorized source for the seed in the world, although they supply several seed companies. In 2002, they sold the propagation rights to Paul Dutton, a farmer in Brookline Vermont, just a short distance from both Wardsboro and Westminster. Through the efforts of Mary Lou and Bill Schmidt, the Gilfeather became more widely grown, although primarily as a home garden rather than commercial crop. Mr. Dutton grew the turnips this summer to supply both seed and the tasty vegetable to farm stands and restaurants. He plans to sell seed to Johnny’s and Fedco seed companies in Maine for their future catalogs.