I had the wonderful pleasure of spending this past weekend Woodstock, VT. Did you know that Vermont is rated the best state for eating local and organic food? Earlier this year, a small non-profit organization tallied the number of farmer’s markets, CSAs, food hubs, and farm-to-school programs per state. The first three categories were then divided per 100,000 residents. Farmers markets and CSAs were weighted at 30 percent each, while food hubs and farm-to-school programs were weighted at 20 percent. Vermont easily took first place and after spending the weekend exploring, it is easy to see why! Vermont is home to over 580 organic farms and hundreds of other eco-friendly adventuring opportunities. The following are 5 of my favorite places that I visited this weekend.
Stroll the Historic Green Pastures of Billing’s Farm
Billing’s Farm is a historic land mark in Woodstock and the home to many jersey cows, sheep, horses, oxen, and chickens. The farm was established in 1871 by a native Vermonter named Frederick Billings and remains an active dairy farm to this day. The farm’s rolling green pastures and seemingly endless rows of corn stretch nearly 1,000 acres. Billing’s Farm is open seasonally, May-October, and offers many tours and events that are perfect for all ages.
Sample Artisan Maple Syrup & Cheeses at Sugarbush Farm
A smaller maple and dairy farm, Sugarbush Farm features hilly green pastures lined with Vermont maple trees. When visiting Sugar Bush, be sure to sample each of their artisan maple syrups. My favorite was the ‘grade B’ with its rich amber color and strong maple flavor. Of the grass-fed cheeses I sampled, the smoked bacon cheddar was my favorite.
Get Lost at the Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company
High atop Chapel Hill sits the Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company. Though no one seemed to be around the farm when I visited, the views alone were enough reason to stop by. Tree covered mountains met by rolling green hills- I would truly love to be part of the Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company’s herd. They offer over 12 varieties of delicious, artisan, grass-fed cheeses. This farm was an important stop on my list, as I often purchase this brand of cheese at my RI food cooperative. It is so important, and rewarding, to see where your food comes from.
Enjoy a Beer at the Long Trail Brewery
The Long Trail Brewery is located Bridgewater Corners along the banks of the breathtaking Ottauquechee River. The menu features seasonal local ingredients that pair perfectly with their award winning craft beers. If you didn’t know, Long Trail is an excellent eco-friendly beer choice. According to www.eatdrinkbetter.com; “Vermont-based Long Trail makes a line called Eco-Brew that is created using a multilateral approach… The “spent mash” from brewing is sent to area farmers as cow feed. The kettle steam is recovered and stored for energy and heating. Wastewater is treated and recycled, reducing water usage. Their on-site vehicles are powered by biodiesel from their pub’s kitchen grease and they invest in local alternative energy cooperative, Cow Power, which – in addition to providing alternative energy – provides financial support to independent dairy farmers who suffer from competition with corporate farms.”
Savor a Sandwich from Woodstock Farmer’s Market
I plan to visit Woodstock more often as there are so many places I’d still like to explore, but after two recent visits, it is safe to say that the Woodstock Farmer’s Market will ALWAYS be on the itinerary. If you ever find yourself in Woodstock, I recommend browsing the beautiful local produce and handcrafted local goods. Whatever you do, make sure you leave with one of their sandwiches. Their menu features close to 30 artisan sandwiches, 8 of which are vegetarian, all of which are absolutely incredible. They are handcrafted from local ingredients including free-range chicken breast, thick cut pastured bacon, grass-fed beef, local Vermont cheeses, fresh produce, quirky homemade sauces, and artisan bread.
A few other honorable mentions include Gillingham & Sons General Store, the Village Butcher, and the official Cabot Cheese tasting station which was located in the Quechee Gorge Village. After one last stop at the Woodstock Farmer’s Market for a free-range chicken sandwich, I headed home fully stocked with maple syrup, assorted cheeses, smoked sea salt, locally crafted hot sauces, a craft beer cookbook, and some new favorite places in Vermont.