The quest for beauty, permanence and health!
Our base of operations and the source of much of our farming and gardening experience is The Farm Between. Our farm is a diversified small scale farm located on Route 15 in Jeffersonville in the Lamoille River Valley of Northwestern Vermont. We own 18 acres, of which three are in production of fruits and vegetables and the rest is used for mixed species livestock grazing. We are dedicated to the ecologically, economically and socially sound production and local sale of vegetables, fruits and integrated livestock (draft horses, cows, pigs, chickens and rabbits). We try to look at things in a holistic manner and to model our farm after complex natural systems such as an entire organism or a self contained ecosystem.
We gather and harness the sun’s energy in many different ways. You might even call our farm a ‘solar power transfer station’. We use plants to convert solar energy into food, work and to build the soil. For example, by partnering with our team of grass and hay fed draft horse mares, Nellie and Nora, we are indirectly using grass to harvest solar power to plow, cultivate and even move snow in the winter. It is known that diversity in cropping systems improves productivity and stability. To that end we grow a large variety of crops and intersperse them in time and space with a variety of cover crops and flowers. This improves soil fertility and provides habitat for natural enemies of pests. We strive to have minimal inputs into our system other than lime, hay and grain to supplement grazing for our pigs, chickens and rabbits. Our cows are all grass fed.
Local direct markets make the most sense to us to achieve social and economic stability. We can keep transportation costs low, have direct relationships with our consumers, and get immediate feedback. We believe in diversity in marketing strategies also. We go to a farmers’ market at Smugglers Notch twice a week in the summer, support a 25 family CSA, sell to local restaurants, stores and supply our black currants to a local winery.
Yeah, but does it work?
During the summer the farming is a full time job for John, and part-time for Nancy and the kids.. We also are able to support one or two summer workers. The farm provides us a healthy lifestyle, the ability to pay ourselves something, money to invest back into the farm for capital improvements or maintenance, and a good portion of our yearly food needs from our summer work. We are not able to pay our year round mortgage payments, health and auto insurance and other fixed costs without off farm income during the non-farming months. That’s OK with us because we enjoy our off-farm pursuits such as teaching at the University of Vermont and running our non-profit ‘Seeds of Self Reliance’. We also think that with good planning, we someday might be willing to make the leap to self sufficiency.