South Hero Land Trust
New Beginnings on the Landon Farm:
Welcoming East Shore Vineyard to South Hero
Conserved Farmland Stays Available for Agriculture in the Future
Over time, farmland, like all land across Vermont, transitions from one family or business to another, changing as markets grow, as families age, and as communities shift. Our goal at South Hero Land Trust, when we conserve farmland, is to keep agricultural land and soils available for farming and affordable for farmers into the future. In a small and tight-knit community like South Hero, it can be sad to see one farm go out of business or a family move away- but conserving farmland gives us hope for the future.
When the Wells family asked the Vermont Land Trust to buy the Landon Farm from them, we were all sad to see them go. But we were eager to lend our local expertise and support to Vermont Land Trust as they looked to the future of the Landon Farm, and began a search for new farmers to keep the land in production.
Finding New Farmers for the Landon Farm
As we reported this spring, VLT quickly began a search for new farmers for the land, sending out a Request for Proposals to potential farmers. During the summer VLT and SHLT reviewed over a dozen proposals, and interviewed several farmers, working hard to find a farm that would be a good match for the Landon Farm and the South Hero community. We are thrilled to share our latest news. East Shore Vineyard has been chosen to lease and eventually buy the Landon Farm!
Holly, Ben, and Peter- the grape growing and
wine making team at East Shore Vineyard
A Local Vineyard Expands to South Hero
East Shore Vineyard has been based on the east shore of Grand Isle for the past 14 years. Founded by Bob & Linda Livingstone, and now owned by their son-in-law Ben Durant, East Shore Vineyard produces several award winning wines, including their popular Louise Swenson and Traminette. They currently raise 11 acres of grapes in Grand Isle, and will use the Landon Farm to expand their production significantly.
Wine is a value-added agricultural product, and East Shore Vineyard will make use of the unique climate and soils of the Champlain Island to produce wines distinct to the region and vineyard. They hope to grow about 50 acres of grapes in South Hero, making it one of the largest vineyards in the state. “I really can’t think of a better place for us to expand our vineyard. The soils, topography, infrastructure, and even the name of the road (East Shore Road), fit our operation perfectly! We are feeling a little like Cinderella these days. Now comes the hard work of getting the farm up and ready for pressing and growing grapes. We are up for the challenge,” said Ben Durant, after hearing the news that their proposal had been selected.
Making the Islands a Destination for Agritourists
Welcoming a second vineyard to South Hero will help make this community and the Champlain Islands a destination for agri-tourists and wine enthusiasts- with Snow Farm Vineyard also producing grape wines and Forbidden Orchards producing ice wine in South Hero, and Hall Home Place producing ice cider, hard cider, and apples wines in Isle la Motte. As Dave Lane of Snow Farm says, “we welcome East Shore Vineyard to the community. We believe that it will be good for business to have another vineyard in South Hero, good for the orchards and other agriculture related businesses as well. More critical mass of value-added business to draw consumers to the Islands is a win-win for us all!”
Eventually East Shore Vineyard plans to make, age, bottle, and sell the wine at the new farm, as well as have a tasting room. This fall they are moving into the new space and getting it ready for the 2015 growing season. Please join us in welcoming them to South Hero!
ESV founder Bob plows in preperation for
spring planting of grape vines