One of my favorite places for lunch is the Harmonyville Store in Townshend. I stopped in on the most beautiful June day within recent memory. Bright, crystal clear, cloudless blue skies, and a riot of leafy green on the trees prompted me to ride the Triumph Bonneville that day.
I pulled up near the door, slung my helmet over the backrest, and headed for the deli at the back of the store. A homemade turkey sandwich and a cold iced tea were in my bag when I went out the door a couple of minutes later. As I was stuffing the bag under the bungee net draped over the pillion, a fellow approached me and asked how I liked my Triumph. An animated discussion ensued, and I learned that he was a motorcyclist as well, and had a Bonneville. Never having met this fellow before, I assumed he was passing through, as many travelers stop at the store. Come to find out he was a local guy and lives in Putney.
That bit of information seemed to open a flood of commonality, and he told me that he was making an all natural basil pesto, with basil grown on his farm. This sort of thing is right in my wheelhouse. Over the years I have developed a fascination with entrepreneurial endeavors, and I've been fortunate enough to have played a part in building a few successful businesses along the way.
So I naturally started asking a lot of questions. The reason for the queries is that I love the whole process of how a person takes an idea and pushes the envelope,
As our conversation evolved, I learned that the fellow I was talking to was David Hume, the entrepreneur who gave birth to Green Mountain Gringo Salsa. While I would pass his production facility in my home town of Chester every week over the years, I had never met him, but I was certainly aware of the national success that his product enjoyed. It deserved to enjoy that success because it was made so well, and his company's philosophy was so in tune with the Vermont quality of life.
So instead of heading for a tropical paradise somewhere after the company was sold, David poured his energy and passion into Whirlygig Farm. While we didn't have time to get into what the farm was all about, I looked up the website and learned that David and Laura Gaudette own Whirlygig farm, and grow the basil along with their children and a menagerie of animals.
The farm is a solar-powered "sustainable enterprise" as the web site says. After watching what my son-in-law and daughter are doing with Walpole Valley Farm, I certainly understand where Whirlygig Farm is coming from. The concept is exciting because it is where agriculture is going, and it is exciting to watch as farms of this type grow, produce, and market natural products. The fact that Dave Hume knows how to do this sort of thing the right way makes it even more significant. I also like the fact that 1 percent of the profits go to the Vermont Land Trust. This isn't the story of a businessman developing another successful business, it's an example of trailblazing social responsibility and making an investment in the local economy. It's the story of a lifestyle that will most likely be an example and a goal for others who care about agriculture, sustainability, and local economics.
Before I tossed a leg over the Bonnie's seat to go on my way, Dave Hume reached into the back of his car and handed me a container of Whirlygig Farm Basil Pesto. Later, when I opened it and tried a sample, I was amazed at the freshness, and the taste. I was later told by someone who knows food that "real pesto"" isn't exactly a common thing in these parts, and that Whirlygig is what real pesto tastes like. Point well taken. I've been slowly warming up to pesto in recent years, but after trying the product of Whirlygig Farm I could see what my foodie friend meant. There was no slow warm up to this stuff ... it got consumed that day, and like one of Whirlygig's customer's said "I licked the container."
Since I've owned my Triumph Bonneville, I've met a number of interesting people. For some reason that bike attracts the coolest folks, and meeting Dave Hume was great fun. This one I'm calling a "Whirlygig Encounter." I'm really looking forward to my next adventure on the Bonnie.
Arlo Mudgett's Morning Almanac has been heard over multiple radio stations in Vermont for 20 years, and can be tuned in at 92.7 WKVT FM every weekday morning at 8 a.m.