Healthy Living Staff Visits Local Farms


We got to take another fantastic field trip last week. The produce team and some members of marketing made the visit to two local Vermont orchards and one of our favorite farms that we sell produce for in both our Vermont and New York Stores. It was a gorgeous fall day and the peak foliage made for an epic trip. We first ventured down Route 7 to Shelburne Orchards. I had been apple picking here before and of course devoured many of their cider donuts (which we sell in store as well) but now I was about to see a different side of the orchard. IMG_4513

Some behind the scenes action. We met Nick and he brought us into their distillery where they are fermenting cider to turn into brandy. IMG_4488

This is a big focus on the farm right now and by using just a copper tank and wood barrels, they make a fabulous product. Seeing the cellar was super special and if you ever run into Nick or have a chance to try his Dead Bird brandy, make sure you ask him what it’s named after… it’s a special secret that has to come right from him. IMG_4524

Get this, one barrel of brandy is 500 gallons of cider! That’s A LOT of apples.


After that, we headed to Whiting Vermont to see Peter at Four Pillars Farm.

IMG_4579Peter has a gorgeous piece of land overlooking acres of autumn colors. It helps that he’s located up a slight hill as well. Four Pillars Farm is a relatively new farm and we were glad Peter talked to us about some of the highs and lows he’s experienced while growing. IMG_4564

His passion is evident in the products that he grows and since Whiting, VT is about halfway between South Burlington and Saratoga, NY we are lucky to have his organic greens in both stores. IMG_4623 IMG_4607

He will be growing baby kale and spinach in the hoop house for the winter, how awesome!


Last but certainly not least we visited another orchard, quite different from the first. Champlain Orchards is located in Shoreham, VT. IMG_4661

Bill met us and we walked up the hill and among the rows and rows of apples that are growing. I had no idea how many varieties of apples existed and it was a treat to learn about them AND be able to try them. After some roaming around in the beautiful orchard, we stepped inside to the packaging, storing and cider-ing barn. We learned that the apples are kept in controlled rooms so that they stay fresh… this means fresh apples almost all year round! IMG_4666

One of the tricks to this is that in the normal air we breathe, there’s about 20% oxygen, there’s only 2% in the controlled rooms so that the apples are actually “starved from oxygen”, keeping them fresher, longer. Champlain Orchards also produces a delicious Cold Apple Cider and Hard Cider as well.