Join Us Outside!
The Latest News
Big Town Market, Small Town Feel
For South Hero resident Nicole Vaughan, going to the Wednesday market with her family is a weekly highlight. It’s a place where her daughters can play; she can visit with friends; and she can pick up staples like eggs, greens, bread and cheese to feed her family. What makes the market special to her and many others is the direct connection it creates between farmers and the community. As she puts it, “we support our farming neighbors by shopping at the market, and their food feeds and supports our family in return. This reciprocity is what keeps our community strong!”
While there have been farms in the Islands for generations, before 2005 it was hard to find fresh local food in the South Hero and Grand Isle. The few farm stands that existed were small and farms relied primarily on wholesale markets. Island residents and visitors didn’t have good ways to connect to local farms or pick up food grown by their neighbors. At the same time, the community recognized that places to gather, and to celebrate food and community, were few and far between. But then a group of dedicated farmers and community leaders came up with an idea to solve both of these problems. (READ MORE)>>
Asking Questions is What Matters...
Chuck Hulse has a passion for nature. A resident of South Hero, you may have passed him on your morning commute, standing knee-deep in a pond on Landon Road, where he goes to survey for amphibians. Or maybe you’ve met him on one of our naturalist hikes. When it comes to natural history or conservation, there are few people more enthusiastic than Chuck. But you may be surprised to learn that Chuck is not a professional naturalist. In fact, he was dissuaded from the field at an early age, but his passion and determination kept him focused throughout his journey in life. His story tells us that it’s never too late to follow your passion.
Chuck grew up in a beach town on Long Island, NY. He was always happiest outside. As a kid he “would go down to where the saltwater meets the freshwater to watch the eels come in and grab a whole handful. Nobody else knew about them, but if you went there they were as clear as day, a miracle hidden in plain sight.” Chuck loved catching frogs in the pond, listening to birds, and exploring the nature around his neighborhood. These experiences were the foundation for his love of nature. He wanted to grow up to be a naturalist.
But when Chuck told his high-school guidance counselor he wanted to be a naturalist, he was told to focus on getting a “real” job (READ MORE)>>
Saving the Family Farm, and a whole lot more...
As you may have read in our winter card, Crescent Bay Farm was one of the first conservation projects completed by South Hero Land Trust. This spring, we sat down with Julie Lane, and her son Nick, to talk more about this third generation family farm.
In 1998, Fred and Gladys Lane were ready to retire, and like many farmers in Vermont, their land was their savings. They loved their farm on Crescent Bay, with acres of rich soils rolling down to the shores of Lake Champlain, and beautiful views of the mountains beyond. They had bought the farm in 1961 and run a dairy there for over 30 years. They raised their three children on the farm, and were deeply committed to the South Hero community. They wanted their son Dave and his wife Julie, who had been working alongside them, to continue working the family farm.
As Julie says, “Dave’s parents were great mentors for us. We were very excited about farming and wanted to buy the farm right away and start on our own, but they slowed us down and really made sure we knew enough to be ready, to be successful.” By 1998, Fred and Gladys knew that Dave and Julie were ready to take on the farm, but they didn’t know how (READ MORE>>)
Come for a Walk in the Woods
by Emily Alger
As the maple trees turned golden and the earth began to smell of pine needles and fallen leaves, I went for a walk in the woods. I chose one of my favorite spots in South Hero, Tracy Woods. And I invited Anne Tracy, one of the landowners, to come along with me. Meandering along the trails, it’s clear that this forest is a magical place for children and grown-ups alike. Anne and her older brother Charles (who passed away in 1989) had the run of the place while growing up. Anne says, “my grandfather was up in the woods every day. We would go up to find him, or just run around- the woods were my playground… where my imagination grew, where I learned to explore and love the natural world.”
Anne’s grandfather was an avid woodsman who invited hundreds of boy scouts from the Islands and farther afield to camp in the woods over the years, while her grandmother loved gardens. She describes walking in the woods with her grandparents, learning about the trees from her grandfather and wildflowers from her grandmother. She tagged along with her brother, who encouraged her to feel brave and independent outdoors.
A Magical Place to Be a Child
She explored the world of her imagination, playing in an area they called the Enchanted Forest, where (READ MORE>>)
Local Students Take Over for a Day in South Hero
“Community Service Means Helping the Community Become a Better Place”
What is community service? It’s “getting your hands dirty and doing things to help other people,” “helping people who don’t have as much as you or helping fix things that are broken,” and “helping the environment.” It is a “chance to give back to your community.” These are just a few of the responses that students at Folsom Education & Community Center gave after their fall Day of Service.
Busy classroom schedules make it difficult for kids to spend time out in the world, whether exploring nature or working in their community. The middle school teachers at Folsom School at are committed to changing that in South Hero. They are using community service to help students gain skills in problem solving and collaboration, while being stewards of their environment, and building deeper connections to the land and their community.
50 students, in grades 5-8, wrapped up a celebration of the new school year with an afternoon of projects that will help make their community a better place for all. From building a new bridge at Round Pond Natural Area, to gleaning watermelon and other vegetables at Pomykala Farm, the students were living examples of (READ MORE>>).
Have You Met South Hero’s Newest Farmers?
The Landon Farm has a new vibe these days, and we are so excited about it! Farmers Phelan O’Connor and Kelsey Chandler have just moved to South Hero and are buying the Landon Farm. We hope that you’ll enjoy getting to know them as much as we have, and give them a big welcome to our community.
After being introduced to farming at Warren Wilson College, and several years of farming with Fairfield farmers Tyler & Melanie Webb at Stony Pond Farm, an organic dairy and beef operation, Kelsey and Phelan are bringing their operation, Pigasus Meats to South Hero.
"We fell in love with farming during our time together at the Warren Wilson College Farm.
Through our experiences there and working since then with other farms... we became committed to farming as our life's work."
A Unique Farm Product
Kelsey and Phelan began Pigasus Meats in 2013, on leased land in Fairfield. Right away, they wanted to distinguish their product and introduce customers to it in a fun way. So Phelan got busy in the kitchen, developing signature recipes for their beer bratwurst and lemon and herb sausage. Their breakfast sausage, developed by Vermont Artisan Meats, became a star product at (READ MORE>>)
Apples, Cider Donuts, and Local Agriculture: Celebrating 50 Years with Hackett’s Orchard
The Places that Make South Hero Home
South Hero’s apple orchards hold a special place in the hearts of many Islanders, young and old. As children growing up in the Islands, fall trips to Hackett’s Orchard and Allenholm Farm to pick apples were sacred- the orchards seemed to sit outside of time, trees heavily loaded with crisp sweet-tart apples and the smell of cider donuts. From picking apples in the fall and seeing young calves in the fields in spring, to swimming lessons at White’s Beach and skating at the Sandbar, there are special places that make South Hero home for us.
Ron and Celia Hackett, who’ve owned Hackett’s Orchard since 1967, have introduced generations of children to apple picking. Hearing their stories over the years, from when they first arrived at the orchard, and “didn’t know one apple from another,” to the day they sold their first pie, was very special for us, and we hope you will enjoy reading some of their story here.
Ron and Celia both grew up in the Northeast Kingdom. Ron’s father owned a dairy farm, a small sugar bush, and a potato farm in Albany, VT. At one time Ron anticipated taking over the potato farm, but life took him in a different direction. He married Celia and (READ MORE>>)