By Tara Kelly
For the past week I was a “lake person”. Lake Bomoseen was my temporary homebase while I took care of a friend’s dogs and enjoyed their lakeside camp between thunderstorms. Spending time in Castleton I appreciated how much local food this town has to offer. From the places that have been around to generations to the newer outlets for local food I found everything I was looking for and more.
Castleton’s role in local food extends back several generations, at least. Much of that history is reflected at Brown’s Orchard Farm Store on Route 30 where you can find their deep, rich cider and a whole lot more. Don’t miss Mary’s cider doughnuts and pies. And while Charlie isn’t usually tending the store, you can catch him at Rutland’s summer and winter markets. A chat with Charlie results in some really interesting stories and historic facts that convey the deep pride the Brown family takes in keeping this business going through the generations.
Breezy Hill Berry Farm
This pick-your-own is in its 4th season. They have rows upon rows of strawberries, black and red raspberries, and even a few blueberries. Maggie and Wayne Doane’s place is visible from “fast 4”. To get there go up North Road from the edge of the village about ½ a mile. They are open daily (while the berries last) from 8am – 6pm. I find this is a great place to go with my kids. We pick multiple flats, eat a bunch with whipped cream, and freeze the rest for mid-winter smoothies. If you don’t have time to pick you can buy a quart or two from the white tent.
If you go to Breezy Hill on a Tuesday you’ll find Dutchess Farm. Actually, you’ll find the home of Stephen and Julia Chamberlain (their fields and major greenhouses are a couple of miles away). On Tuesdays from 3-6 they are open for business selling their beautiful varieties of vegetables.
Castleton Village Store
This is a great little store right on Main Street. They carry a variety of local cheeses, eggs, specialty foods and wines all hailing from Vermont.
Castleton Farmers Market
On a Thursday from 3-6, the Castleton Farmers Market is not to be missed. Located near the Castleton Village Store, the market looks small if you are comparing it to the larger ones around the region. But, it was the perfect place to pick up mid-week groceries. Here’s a sampling of what I found:
- The Garden Guy, Tim Gilbert, had some beautiful snap peas. He told me the farmers market does a good business serving locals and “lake people”.
- Gran-Debra Farms from West Haven had some homemade chevre goat cheese that I love to eat with my peas. This is a new business in our region. It was a nice surprise to find them.
- Pine Hollow Poultry from Clarendon was there. It was great to see Robin Taft selling her whole, frozen chickens and a variety of pork items from bacon to chops. On a side note, Robin is creating an art piece for RAFFL to display at the Chaffee’s downtown Rutland gallery. Come to the opening on July 12th to check it out!
- Cucumbers and tomatoes! I found my first cucumbers of the season at the Sunset Hill Farm table. Nancy Edson told me about the way they trellis their cucumbers and tomatoes in their greenhouse so they are ready for picking early.
- Chrysalis Cultures of Fair Haven was my biggest surprise. This new business sells many varieties of sauerkraut and other products. I was excited to hear that since coming to RAFFL’s Fermentation Festival at Green Mountain College in April, they’ve begun using the commercial kitchen at GMC to produce their product. There are now a handful of small, specialty food producers using that commerically licensed kitchen. Anyone wanting more information can call Sam Dixon at GMC or call our office at RAFFL and we’ll put you in touch.
- Old Gates Farm had a nice variety of veggies – and some of our Locally Grown Guides at their table for the taking. Thanks Adam!
The Castleton market will be open this week for the 4th of July. Be sure to pick up some goodies for your barbecue (see our Everyday Chef website for ideas about grilling veggies).
The Flanders family took over the farmstand on Route 30 near the corner of Route 4A that had been run for decades by the Miller Family. The Flanders have done a nice job offering a wide variety of vegetables, flowers, and starter plants. They have also added a snack bar. They are open daily.
A bit further out from the center of Castleton on the road to West Rutland is Grabowski farmstand. They aren’t open yet – but I can’t wait for their sweet corn to come in! Definitely worth stopping for a few fresh ears before heading home to cook dinner.
Old Gates Farmstand
Adam Stevenson and Kris Jacoby have a great self-serve farmstand on South Street where you can find veggies, eggs and even buy some raw milk. Kris is also instrumental in the Stone Valley Market on Main Street in Poultney. This great little grocery store carries a wide variety of local products. But, that’s a story for another day!
Tara Kelly is Executive Director of the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL). Get out to a local farm this summer – join our farm tours, help us harvest product for people in need of food assistance, or pick some berries for YOUR freezer. More info at www.rutlandfarmandfood.org and on FaceBook.
Originally published in the Rutland Herald.