They call it Vergennes Clay. Is the most prolific soil type in Vermont’s Addison County and it is quite fertile for farming. Picturesque Addison County sits on the western edge of Vermont with the Green Mountains to the east and Lake Champlain and New York’s Adirondack Mountains to the west. It is upon this soil that some of the finest food in the world is grown.Addison County in Vermont is home to some of the best food in the world. Read more about the county, it’s farms, and the families who make up this unique area of the Green Mountain State #cabotcheese #cabotfarmers Click To Tweet
The county features a workable landscape of flat fields, a micro-climate ideal for growing food, and farmers who are collaborative and innovative in nature. Many of Cabot’s farm families call this valley home. North Wind Acres in Shoreham is one of those farms. The Pope family milks over 100 cows and owns a hauling business, bringing high-quality milk to market.
It is not just dairies that dot this landscape, many fruit growers also call Addison County home. Bill Suhr of Champlain Orchards describes the area’s climate: “The warm days and cool nights of both spring and fall, make it an ideal climate to grow fruit. Due to the proximity to the lake, the growing season lasts a bit longer as the we generally see our first frost later than communities closer to the mountains.”
For the Suhr and Pope families, living on and working the land of Addison County is more than a day job. It takes an appreciation of hard work, a commitment to family, and working with their neighbors to make it all click in this little corner of the world. The result of their work is a bounty of world-renowned apples and cheddar. If you haven’t heard, those two things pair pretty darn well together.
Stephanie Pope and her son Remy recently visited Bill’s orchard to pick some apples and talk farming in the valley. Stephanie says she believes part of their success relies on area farms working together: “There is such great diversity between the diary, fruit, and other farms. There is room for us all and because of our numbers we can work together to create a community where we can all keep growing alongside each other.”
One example of collaboration is the Tri-Town Water district that was originally created in 1965. The towns and farmers of Addison, Shoreham, and Bridport came together to put a water treatment facility in, bringing a steady and much needed source of water to farms across the county. Both Bill and Stephanie say it is key to their businesses today.
Another thing dotting the landscape is renewable energy. Solar panels and windmills are a constant as you drive down Route 22A, a road that cuts through the heart of Addison County. Solar panels are planted alongside apple trees and windmills stand taller than farm silos. Farms have also made investments in Cow Power, turning manure into renewable energy.
It’s a commitment to technology and innovation that Bill sees as key to the future success of these farms: “Stephanie and I are working to build our businesses to last, but as we grow, we have to expand our distribution markets. How do we entice people in new markets to try our products? We can tell our whole story right here on the farm, the trees grow the fruit, the solar panels power our farm market and warehouse, there is an element of consumer education going on that is very valuable when looking forward.”
Did he just mention a farm market? Yeah, he did. Champlain Orchards has pies and donuts and cider… all things delicious. It just so happens all those things go well with cheddar too.