A way of life melting away


Sheep cross a mountain plateau in the vicinity of the glacier in Switzerland. — ©2024 The New York Times Company

FOR centuries, Swiss farmers have sent their cattle, goats and sheep up the mountains to graze in warmer months before bringing them back down at the start of autumn.

Devised in the Middle Ages to save precious grass in the valleys for winter stock, the tradition of “summering” has so transformed the countryside into a patchwork of forests and pastures that maintaining its appearance was written into the Swiss Constitution as an essential role of agriculture.

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