Twenty years ago we bought 40 acres (5 of which were tillable) an old farmhouse and even older barn to start this farm. Everything needed lots of TLC. The land was overgrown with weeds, the barn was on the verge of crumbling and the house, well it was livable, so we moved in. We’ve acquired more land over the years, both bought and rented, and improved it each year using organic practices. We’ve plugged away at remodeling and adding office space onto the house. And we’ve put lots and lots of time and resources into the barn. Not only have we saved it from crumbling, but we have turned it into the hub of activity on the farm. It was the hub when this was a dairy farm and it is again the hub with this farm. As I was getting ready to write about the barn I remembered that I had written something years ago. Below is what I wrote in 2007, I don’t think I can say it any better today.

This old barn is one special friend on this farm. She is over 100 years old and gets more beautiful with age. When we bought this farm in 1994 she was in need of lots of help. The first thing we did was fix her foundation. After it was all patched and put together, concrete was sprayed into the once beautiful but now crumbling lime stone walls. Her foundation was now strong. We needed a walk-in-cooler so we poured concrete, built a cooler and built walls around it. The Barn now had a cooler attached to her. We removed the cow stanchions, scooped out lots of old manure and filled in the manure gutters. After a few years we needed a packing shed to wash and sort vegetables so we added one onto her north side. First concrete was poured, then our beloved dog, River, walked through the concrete (note his paw prints some time). The steel walls were constructed with one side open to the east. It’s a beautiful place to work. Over time we needed more cooler space. A cooler couldn’t be properly built under crumbling beams so the big project of removing two sections of the upper barn floor happened one January. What a difference. A solid floor upstairs and a solid ceiling above the box packing area. (prior to that we had a sheet of plastic nailed to the ceiling to keep the crumbling bits from falling on us). A beautiful new cooler was constructed. Potato storage. The north side of the barn had housed David’s workshop and storage for small tractors and equipment. As our farm continued to grow the space was much too small. We also needed additional cooler space. Again, major renovation. The remaining three sections of the barn floor were removed and replaced, another January project two years later. A large potato cooler was constructed with a potato sorting room. (the old potato cooler is now an additional cooler for vegetables). This meant David’s workshop had to move, so a year ago he built a large shed, big enough for a workshop and storage space for the ever growing fleet of tractors and specialized vegetable equipment. But, alas, each time it rained we knew our beautiful new barn floor was getting wet. It was time. A new roof was put on.

Now I have to add to the story because more has happened since 2007. As the farm grew and we acquired larger equipment to wash vegetables, we needed additional packing shed space. We built ‘the annex’, an addition on the east side of the barn, to house our greens washer, root tumbler, and various potato sorting equipment. Cooler space was getting scarce so we added yet another large walk in cooler inside the original packing shed area. This cooler is tall and has a garage door so we can drive in with bulk bins of vegetables. And then the major facelift came in the spring of 2010 when the old wood siding was covered with metal. The old look is gone, I cried, but this old barn will stand another hundred years or more. This old barn is an amazing part of Vermont valley Community Farm’s history and future.

Barb

The addition of  ‘The Annex’ in 2009

The addition of ‘The Annex’ in 2009

Siding the barn in the spring of 2010

Siding the barn in the spring of 2010

Eric, Ken Schuster, and David working on the west side the barn .

Eric, Ken Schuster, and David working on the west side the barn.