Dummerston to celebrate farming


DUMMERSTON -- If the organizers of Dummerston's inaugural Open Farms Day had to pick a theme, they might choose "variety."

Saturday's celebration includes a farm that was founded before Vermont was a state, and it includes a CSA founded a dozen years ago. There are products ranging from traditional fruits and vegetables to specialties such as pickles, cider vinegar, flowers and Christmas trees.

In a category of their own might be one farm's Nigerian dwarf goats.

The mix of old and new, and the number of products featured, is no accident. Vern Grubinger of the town's Farmland Protection Committee said Open Farms Day is meant to showcase the town's agricultural diversity.

"Some of these folks have been at it a long time, and their families have farmed for generations; others are newer to farming and to the town," Grubinger wrote in a recent notice in the Views of Dummerston. "These farms exemplify the creativity, connection to community and use of sustainable production practices that makes agriculture in Dummerston and Vermont so special."

Open Farms Day is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, capped off by a Farms Day Picnic at Bunker Farm from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. "or until the food runs out," organizers said.

The day is sponsored and organized by Dummerston's Farmland Protection Committee, the town Conservation Commission, Evening Star Grange and Transition Dummerston.

Planning for the event got under way in the spring, said Bill Schmidt, who serves on both the Farmland Protection Committee and the Conservation Commission.

"It's a celebration of agriculture. We have a lot of great farms and farmers, and we want to acknowledge them," said Schmidt, who until recently owned and operated Elysian Hills Tree Farm. "We also want to help townspeople become more aware of and knowledgeable about farms."

There are seven farms featured:

-- Bunker Farm, a historic property that now is conserved, was purchased this year by the O'Donnell Family Co., a consortium of four local residents who worked through the Vermont Land Trust's Farm Access Program.

In addition to participating in this Saturday's event, Bunker Farm's products and projects are on display during regular open-farm hours from noon to 5 p.m. every Saturday.

-- Elysian Hills Tree Farm was sold this year by Bill and Mary Lou Schmidt to Walker Farm owners Jack and Karen Manix, who have plans to expand the business while also maintaining Elysian Hills' popular Christmas-tree sales. The Schmidts continue to live on the property.

-- Dwight Miller & Son Farm is "certifiably one of Vermont's oldest continually operating farms," organizers said. In addition to apples, the farm produces certified organic fruits and vegetables as well as pastured pork and chicken and other products.

-- Mountain Mowings Farm was started by the Hickin family on Black Mountain Road in the early 1950s. The farm is known for homemade jam and pickles as well as berries, vegetables and perennial flowers.

-- New Leaf CSA was started by Elizabeth Wood in 2002; the CSA grows vegetables, herbs and flowers for 100 member families. Fresh eggs are available, and the property hosts Nigerian dwarf goats.

-- Scott Farm dates to the late 1700s; orchards became the farm's primary focus in 1915. Now owned by Landmark Trust USA, Scott Farm specializes in 100 heirloom apple varieties along with other, seasonal fruit.

-- Walker Farm also dates to the 18th century and grows organic vegetables and fruits on 30 acres. There are 22 greenhouses, and the farm's nursery features trees, shrubs and perennials. Walker Farm also is known for its popular farm stand on Route 5.

During Open Farm Day, residents will have a chance to meet and chat with farmers. There are times set aside for special events at Scott Farm (orchard tours at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.); Walker Farm (tours at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.); and Elysian Hills (wagon ride tours hourly from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.).

Fliers and maps are available at Dummerston town office.

Much of the food for the concluding picnic at Bunker Farm will be contributed by the participating farms; the menu includes baked ham, corn on the cob, summer squash casserole, salads, bread, apple crisp, watermelon and drinks.

Admission to the picnic is $10 for adults and $5 for children. After expenses are covered, proceeds will benefit Dummerston's Farmland Protection Fund.

The fund recently was used to support the Bunker Farm purchase/conservation project. When the new fiscal year began July 1, the protection fund stood at $25,425, with another $2,500 due to be allocated into the account in fiscal 2015.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.


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