by Alice Levitt
Before most of us were awake on Monday, January 13, Beth Whiting and Bruce Hennessey of Maple Wind Farm had already received some very bad news. Just an hour and a half after the fire department arrived, their historic barn was declared a total loss.
Though the pair's home farm is in Huntington, an expansion in the summer of 2013 meant adding a Richmond property, including the barn that was destroyed.
The damage amounts to about $200,000, including refrigerators, washing tools, office space and 10,000 pounds of frozen vegetables.
Reached by phone this afternoon, Whiting was surprisingly upbeat. No people or animals were harmed in the fire and the farmers were able to sell their wares at the Burlington Farmers Market last weekend. Whiting says that although some poultry processing equipment was damaged in the fire, the farm remains on track to pass USDA inspection this winter. She calls the ability to rebuild to their own specifications a "silver lining."
Selling their own products will help cover some costs, but friends are helping out, too. David Zuckerman and Rachel Nevitt of Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg are supplying organic pork and vegetables for a fundraiser at Hinesburgh Public House on January 28. The dinner, served from 5 to 9 p.m., will consist of three courses, all for $25. Ben & Jerry's is donating dessert.
Whiting says that since Maple Wind Farm supplies Hinesburgh Public House, "We're really excited to close the loop with them."
Other fundraising events are slowly cropping up. This Friday, the Richmond Congregational Church's weekly Friday Food Affair will dedicate its 5 p.m. potluck dinner to raising money for the farm.
"I've heard some rumblings of some wonderful possibilities — of an auction or other events," says Whiting. She also says Healthy Living and City Market, the latter of which helped to pay for the poultry processing equipment, are also likely to reach out.
Watch this space for more ways to help one of Vermont's best sources for meat and veggies.