We realize we are privileged, and the bounty and beauty of our region is not something we take for granted. Vermont is a state rich in agriculture, and spring’s the season for making maple syrup, starting new crops and foraging. We were feeling a little stir crazy on a recent blustery, beautiful and brisk spring day, and our veggie supply had dwindled to a couple of pounds of sweet potatoes and a few onions (destined to become a curry, more on that later), so a supply run was on our list of tasks. We grabbed our masks, gloves and a shopping basket and traveled down some of Southern Vermont’s beautiful back roads, stopping by a few of our favorite farms that sell their wares directly to hungry and appreciative locals.
First stop was Deer Ridge Farm, a beautiful spot and home to our friends Jerry Smith and Susan Peters. Jerry and Susan produce top-notch maple syrup and flavorful honey which draws people to their farm stand from miles around. The bees get to feast on their abundant flower gardens in the summertime, a spectacular collection of varietals that decorate gorgeous wedding and festival tables in the region.
We picked up some of the rich, caramel-y dark for chocolate recipes, and light, floral amber for baking and pouring straight-up over pancakes and ice cream at home. And we so appreciated a socially-distant yet warm conversation from porch-to-driveway with the lord and lady of the farm.
Next stop was ReBop Farm, a lovely farmstead and store that carries their own humane, clean meat and a variety of local products (including our chocolates, we’re proud to say) on a stunning hilltop.
The sign outside the store allows one party at a time inside, and has customers wash their hands before shopping the wide variety of wares in their immaculate little shop. We were able to stock up on house-made sausage for John, as well as Parish Hill Creamery cheese, beets brought in fresh by Abraham while we were there, onions, a baked-that-morning baguette by Gilles, FinAllie Ferments kimchee, and made a note to grab Duchess Coffee, Vermont Shepherd sheep yogurt and cheese, and flour and cornmeal next time we stopped in.
Next stop was Dutton Farm Stand, a large market filled with conventional as well as their own produce, maple syrup products, jams and jellies, flowers and plants, cheeses, coffee beans, beer, and fresh-baked pies and bread from their on-site kitchen. Their berry and vegetable farm is legendary in the area, and we were able to pick up some kale, fresh herbs, and a small loaf of bread for toast and jam.
Other local farms offering fresh produce, cheese and dairy products, meats, maple products and more via their farm stands, CSA’s and/or pre-order pickups:
Full Plate Farm CSA
Lost Barn Farm CSA
Our small population sprinkled among mountains and fields (when we first moved here we marveled that there are more people in San Francisco than in the whole state of Vermont!) and accessibility to farms makes it easier to self-isolate and still find good food and get outside, and we realize that in these times that indeed is very lucky, and yes, a huge privelege.
This spring as plants wake up and humans see the effects of sheltering in place on our environment and our fellow creatures, this is an opportunity to reassess how we approach the land, other species, ecosystems, how we eat and grow food, and how we work to mitigate damage from pollution and waste. It’s also time to reflect on other cultures and populations who do not have the good fortune of having medical care access or secure food supplies, and get active by supporting local food banks and clinics through volunteering and donations, donating to international organizations that help make food and medical supplies available to people in our communities and in other countries that are at risk, and pushing for policies that take into account our whole planet and all peoples.
With Farmers Markets considered non-essential in Vermont (guidelines for farmers markets will be updated in the coming weeks, so we’ll see where that stands), and with restaurants and cafés shut down, many small farmers are scrambling for ways to get their nutritious, locally grown food to consumers. Right now it is essential for those of us who have access to locally grown food to support our local small farmers and all of their efforts through buying direct from farm stands, buying local at co-ops, and signing up for CSA’s.
During other times in our life, and during the current lockdown, being able to vicariously get out and gather via books, movies and online resources has been a lifeline. Here are a few books that have fueled our connections with the outdoors, and sparked our tastebuds with new ideas: