Field Trip: Shelburne Farms

On this late fall day I have some time to look back on a trip to Shelburne Farms and Shelburne Museum, two separate places but both in the small town of Shelburne, Vermont, which I visited with spouse on 2&3 July this summer. It was hot, 86-89F for highs and around 65F for a low. It’s pleasant to think about the heat now, looking out on a white lawn, drinking hot jasmine tea, roaring fire and cat beside me, with outside temps in the low 30s, a raw feeling in the damp air, and the winter holidays approaching with alacrity; but I remember then having to keep drinking water to prevent dehydration and faintness as we generally shunned the shuttle and walked a total of 11.3 miles the first day and 6 miles the second. Time overlapping in the mind, the past half hidden, part lie:

If we are something, we are our past, aren’t we? Our past is not what can be recorded in a biography or in the newspapers. Our past is our memory. That memory can be hidden or inaccurate — it doesn’t matter. It’s there, isn’t it? It can be a lie but that lie becomes part of our memory, part of us.” Jorge Luis Borges, in conversation with Argentinian poet and essayist Osvaldo Ferrari, from “Borges and God,” The New York Review of Books (4 November 2014)


We visited both places on both days, starting with Shelburne Farms in the morning and ending with Shelburne Museum in the afternoon each day. This post will focus on the Farms, the next on Shelburne Museum.


Shelburne Farms — whose mission is to “to inspire and cultivate learning for a sustainable future” — is 1,400 acres of pastures, woodlands, wetlands, gardens, and historic buildings, including the barns, a store, a market garden, the dairy, woodland paths, a solar orchard, a coach barn, and The Inn at Shelburne Farms (open seasonally from May to Oct). You can walk everywhere on paths, and  there’s also a regular shuttle between the store and farm buildings, plus narrated guided tours on a shuttle throughout the day. (Shelburne Farms blog, with lots of interesting articles.)

This is the tractor-drawn shuttle in front of the barn buildings:


We took a tour to the Inn on a pickup-drawn shuttle one day: guidetalkingtourShelburneFarmsVT2July2019

There’s a path through fields from the parking lot and store to the farm buildings.



Food truck at the farm buildings, with kombucha:


Children’s barn and farmyard:




Cheese-making (and sampling)!


The cheese is made from the milk of Brown Swiss cows.


There’s also a bakery in the building complex, which we visited three or four times for both savory (olive) and sweet rolls. Yum.

And there are some vegetable plots nearby; this was lettuce and maybe scallions growing in a raised bed:



I mentioned that there’s a shuttle tour to The Inn at Shelburne Farms, on the far end of the property. It sits beside 435-square-mile Lake Champlain, through which the border between Vermont and New York runs.


Looking over to New York.lakeChamplainAdirondackMountainsviewskycloudsShelburneFarmsVT2July2019LakeChamplainapproachShelburneInnShelburneFarmsVT3July2019viewLakeChamplaintreeslinelinearinarowShelburneFarmsVT3July2019

The formal garden between the inn and the lake was a cool spot on hot days, with peonies, roses, and larkspur in full bloom.



Nearby is the brick coach house, used now as an event venue.



And near the coach house were these trees, which seemed to have something going on with their bark:


I think these were the needles and cones of the same trees, some kind of long-needled pine, or a spruce?:



Despite the heat, or maybe because of it, what I enjoyed most was walking the wide access paths and the woodland trails at the Farms.

The maze-like Whimsey trails, on which we got lost for a bit:


The view from Lone Tree Hill: viewatopLoneTreeHillTrailAdirondackMountainsLakeChamplainShelburneFarmsVT2July2019viewlandscapeAdirondackMountainsfieldconvexShelburneFarmsVT2July2019

Jack in the pulpit: JackinPulpitseedsgreenShelburneFarmsVT3July2019


Rubus odoratus, flowering raspberry:RubusOdoratusPurpleFloweringRaspberryShrubShelburneFarmVT3July2019.jpg


The Market Garden trail leads from near the Inn to the 7-acre organic mixed vegetable and flower market garden, a thriving operation growing food and flowers for the restaurant at The Inn and for the Shelburne and Burlington farmers markets. It’s also an educational facility to teach summer campers about food systems. (The Farms also does maple sugaring.)



Zinnias in the hoop house:flowershoophouseShelburneFarmsVT3July2019

Squashes: squashMarketGardenShelburneFarmsVT3July2019


We became members and hope to visit again soon, maybe to snowshoe their trails this winter.

“We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity. When we see the land as a community to which we belong we may begin to use it with love and respect. That land is a community is a basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.” — Aldo Leopold, foreword to A Sand County Almanac

The above was quoted by Anna Hewitt in a lovely meditation she wrote in Grist when apprenticing at the market garden in Aug. 2003.





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