Winooski may still not have a grocery store, but its reputation as a “food desert” is waning. On July 14, the city became home to Lil’ Bit Farm Stand, located at 47 East Allen Street immediately across from the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation building.
Last summer, farmers Jennifer Gough and Cory Bouthillette started planting their Fairfax garden and caring for pigs and a flock of laying chickens. Then, “We found out they didn’t have a grocery store in Winooski,” says Gough. So, this year they cleaned up the overgrown East Allen lot — which is owned by Bouthillette’s father and uncle — and raised a small tent in the space. “It seemed like a really good way to support our farm and also bring something that was needed,” Gough says.
The stand is open Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Gough says her farm’s current produce includes beans, rainbow chard and various squashes. Lil’ Bit’s tomatoes should be hitting the stand next week or the week after. For now, the pair is selling tomatoes grown at Foote Brook Farm in Johnson, as well as that farm’s carrots, kale and beets.
Though Gough and Bouthillette are raising their own meat, they’re waiting to sell it until they have a more permanent stand built — one with electric-cooling capacity. The couple is also cultivating their own beehive, but until the honey is ready next year, the sweet stuff will come from Butternut Mountain Farm in Morrisville.
The stand will remain open through Lil’ Bit’s growing season and close for the year in October. “Obviously, we can’t take the place of a grocery store,” Gough says. “I hope Winooski gets its grocery store, but in the meantime, if you need some carrots or green beans, we’re here.”