Pandemic Pick: Which Farmstand or Farmers Market Provided Easy Access to Fresh, Local Foods? | Food + Drink Features | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Pandemic Pick: Which Farmstand or Farmers Market Provided Easy Access to Fresh, Local Foods?

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Norwich Farm Creamery - SARAH PRIESTAP
  • Sarah Priestap
  • Norwich Farm Creamery

Norwich Farm Creamery

Norwich • norwichfarmcreamery.com

It all started with spinach. Laura Brown, co-owner of Norwich Farm Creamery, remembers vividly how quiet the roads were in the spring of 2020 when she would drive 15 minutes to the Sharon Park & Ride to pick up 50 pounds of spinach from Suzanne Long of South Royalton's Luna Bleu Farm.

"The [winter] farmers market had been canceled, and I reached out to Suzanne because I knew she had lost that business," Brown recalled. "When I came home, there'd be this line of people waiting. We'd sell out in 48 hours."

Brown and her husband, Chris Gray, were already running a small farmstand to sell their own fresh dairy products: plain and chocolate milk, ricotta, yogurt, and rice pudding. The couple started building the creamery in 2015 in partnership with the Norwich farm's then-owner, Vermont Technical College. The original plan was to develop a mutually beneficial dairy education collaboration, but the college sold the farm to the Upper Valley Land Trust, jeopardizing Brown and Gray's future there.

Despite that uncertainty, the couple worked hard to expand to meet the needs of their community during COVID-19.

"Without skipping a beat, this farmstand reached out to their farmers market vendors, who were also impacted by the pandemic, and created a new market for their products," said a Seven Days reader. "This small stand stepped up big-time to feed our community," another elaborated. "It went from a little place to pick up milk to a place to get food from over 60 local producers."

Several readers noted that shopping at the farmstand felt safer than big grocery stores, but it was also more than just a shop. One shared that she and her daughter made a tradition out of the four-mile bike ride to the farm after the remote school day was over.

"They make the absolute best chocolate milk anywhere," another devotee said. "When the pandemic made me sad, I had some chocolate milk and things seemed a little better."


Bread & Butter Farm: The farm on the Shelburne-South Burlington town line offered curbside pickup through a new online store. Customers could fill their carts with grass-fed beef and veggies, along with prepared meals to-go from Blank Page Café and products from other local farms and food producers. (Shelburne • breadandbutterfarm.com)

Burlington Farmers Market: Things are close to normal at the weekly market on Pine Street this summer after a year of navigating guidelines for one-way traffic flow, preorders and limited capacities. But even with regulations in place, the 2020 season had market shoppers filling their baskets with bounty, including flowers, mushrooms, sausages, radicchio, coffee, jam and marshmallows. (Burlington • burlingtonfarmersmarket.org)

The Roots Farm Market: The corner market at the intersection of routes 2 and 100B is owned and operated by Bear Roots Farm, and its shelves have remained stocked with organically grown vegetables. Beyond that, shoppers stopped by for local dairy, tortillas, maple, ferments, and even popsicles and doughnuts. (Middlesex • bearrootsfarm.com/the-roots-farm-market)

Shelburne Farms: The Inn at Shelburne Farms is still closed, but the produce from its seven-acre market garden has been available for purchase at the farm's Welcome Center & Farm Store throughout the pandemic. That produce was also made into prepared meals, such as lasagna, macaroni and cheese, and lemon risotto with pickled pole beans. (Shelburne • shelburnefarms.org)

Editor note: To choose Vermont's Pandemic All-Stars, we surveyed our readers on the people, places and programs that kept them going — and going — during the COVID-19 pandemic. Space limitations prevented us from recognizing every pick worthy of public praise.