Healthy Living Fall 2015 Farm Visits
Fall is in full swing here in Vermont! What better way to enjoy this magical time of year than getting outside, and visiting some of the farms and farmers that provide Healthy Living with such delicious local produce? Last week, members of our produce and marketing departments headed out to three area farms.
Burnt Rock Farm
Our first stop of the day was Burnt Rock Farm in Huntington. The early morning chill in the air woke us right up, as owner Justin Rich led us out to the field on his property. Justin’s property is beautiful, flanked on nearly all sides by mountains, with one side bordered by a small tributary of the Huntington River. Justin and the crew at Burnt Rock focus their attention on growing greens and storage crops all summer long, and spend the autumn and winter selling it all to local stores, restaurants, online markets, CSAs, and at the Burlington Winter Farmers’ Market. By the time we visited, most of their crops had been harvested and were in their large, state of the art storage facility so that we can enjoy them (almost) all winter long!. They focus intently on soil health and fertility, building the soil and rotating their crops to leave the land better and more fertile for future generations than when they farmed on it.
We buy many different varieties of potatoes and sweet potatoes from them in the fall, each with it’s own purpose in the kitchen and distinct flavor. German Butterball and Nicola potatoes are fabulous for mashing, Laratte fingerlings are lovely for roasting, potato salads, and homefries, and Adirondack Red potatoes contain high levels of antioxidants. Burnt Rock Farm is Certified Organic.
Green Mountain Harvest Hydroponics
From Huntington, we headed east to Waitsfield, home of Green Mountain Harvest Hydroponics. Dave Hartshorn gave us an amazing, and very informative tour of their hydroponic green house. In hydroponics, plants are grown without the use of soil. Instead, water infused with vital minerals flow through a system of tubes, giving plants the perfect amount of nutrients. The lettuces, basil, and watercress that the greenhouse produces can be harvested in 3 – 5 weeks from sprouting, much sooner than those in soil grown environments. Hydroponics conserve water because there is very little evaporation – most of the water in the system goes right to the plants – and there is little to no runoff into the outer environment, which can mean cleaner waterways for us all in the future.
Some of the goals of the Green Mountain Harvest business model are:
– To recycle as many materials as possible for their building needs
– Become a carbon positive business by installing solar panels and other initiatives
– To be as efficient with resources like water and energy as possible
– Most importantly, to provide clean, safe, and delicious local food for our community
Their dream is to build the systems that would allow Vermonters to locally produce the food that we eat all year round – not an easy feat in our frigid Northeastern winters. Altogether, we were super impressed with them!
Our third and final stop brought us to Starksboro to visit David and Anthony Purinton at Purinton Gardens. By now, the temperature had gone from a brisk 40 degrees to nearly 75 – ah, fall in Vermont. Purinton is a small family farm located on a gorgeous piece of property that’s prime for farming. They’re a VOF Certified Organic Garden, growing hearty vegetables like beets, carrots, potatoes, onions, and radishes, as well as berries in the warmer summer months. We got to tour their fields, a lower field along a brook used to grow strawberries, the upper where veggies are grown, and their storage facility. David and Anthony have retrofitted part of their basement, installing a huge walk-in cooler. A greenhouse attached to the house is also used for seedlings in early spring, and tomatoes during summer. The gentlemen do most of their harvesting and washing by hand, and we love their dedication to quality and the beauty of their produce.