After spending a few hours with the Dartmouth TISH group, my wife and I drove to Burlington, Vermont for a weekend of exploration. It's always been our retirement plan to run a small family farm, raising organic vegetables and a few animals that contribute to the ecosystem ie. chickens for insect control/fertilizer, pigs for consumption of food scraps, and goats for trimming grass/plant overgrowth. Vermont has the rolling hills, fertile farmland, and agricultural zoning we desire but also has close proximity to arts, culture, and great small businesses.
On our first night, we ate at our favorite Vermont vegan friendly restaurant, A Single Pebble in Burlington and stayed at the Willard Street Inn, in a cozy 3rd floor nook.
On Saturday morning, we explored Burlington, South Burlington, Williston, and Shelburne. We walked the grounds of Shelburne Farm (pictured above), then enjoyed a loaf of fresh broad, local mustard, apple cider, and fruit while sitting on the shore of Lake Champlain. We spent the afternoon exploring Charlotte and Hinesburg, cities south of Burlington with extensive farming. For dinner, we enjoyed a vegan spicy corn and black bean pudding at the Bearded Frog and stayed the night at The Elliot House.
On Sunday we drove the covered bridges and back roads of Charlotte and Hinesburg, then explored central and southern Vermont, driving to Bristol (near Middlebury), Lincoln, and Warren/Sugarbush. Road closures due to Hurricane Irene rerouted us through Killington and Woodstock, then to White River Junction and the drive home to Boston.
My conclusion - Vermont is a remarkable place with warm people, strong locavore/small business support , and the perfect combination of wide open spaces with access to high tech services.
Our quest for farmland begins.