A farmer needs to possess a wide variety of skills. From fixing tractors, to growing crops, to repairing old barns, to caring for animals, it takes many talents to get the job done. George Woodard is a jack of all these trades, and brings many more to the role. George is an actor, comic, musician, filmmaker, and storyteller. When he’s not milking cows at his farm in Waterbury, Vermont, he’s writing music, producing plays, and making movies.
Woodard milks about 25 cows on land first purchased by his grandfather more than one hundred years ago. Woodard returned to the family farm, which is nestled at the base of Hunger Mountain, after several years in Los Angeles, where he honed his performance skills.
“I learned a lot in L.A. about acting, about making movies,” Woodard says. “But I realized I didn’t need to be in California. I could come back to the place that I love, and do my thing right here in Vermont.”
George is best known locally as the creator of The Woodchuck Theatre company, which produces theatrical variety shows with a bygone flair. His productions, including “The Groundhog Opry” and “Our Town” routinely sell out local theaters, drawing devoted fans eager to enjoy skits, stories, and songs performed by George and his cast.
The Woodard farm has been certified organic since 1995, and was one of the first farms in the area to earn the distinction. George and a helper milk the cows twice a day. The cows are pastured among the rolling hills of the 200 acre farm, which is nestled just below the crest of Waterbury’s picturesque Loomis Hill.
George has also directed and co-written a feature-length film, The Summer of Walter Hacks. Set in 1952, the film chronicles one boy’s adventures in a small New England town, not unlike Woodard’s own town of Waterbury.
It’s hard to imagine how a busy farmer finds time to write and direct a movie, but George says farming lends itself to creativity.
“It’s easy to think when you are working,” he says. “Lots of time for the imagination to roam. I started writing Walter Hacks while milking cows. Every time I had an idea, I’d jot it down on a piece of paper towel.”
Over the course of many years, those pieces of paper towel culminated in a 150 minute screenplay.
George’s resume also includes Hollywood movies and broadcast TV credits. He has acted alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Liam Neeson and Patricia Arquette, but rural stories are what excites him most.
“Small town stories are what I find interesting…how people are connected, the way a landscape can shape life and culture,” he says. “History matters, place matters. So much is lost when we let go of our connections to communities.”
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