Mid-Winter Around the Farm

Posted by Holly Brough
Director of Communications

Even in the middle of winter, there's so much going on at Shelburne Farms, and none of it just "happens." It's only your support that keeps the programs interesting and impactful, the animals warm and healthy, and the campus humming and accessible. So we hope you enjoy this quick look at what your generosity makes possible every day here. Come check it out yourself!


Families are having fun

Young and old have enjoyed getting out in the winter air, and also getting their creative on: from woodworking to wool felting. A big thanks to the team at Outreach for Earth Stewardship, who always make things real, exciting, and awe-inspiring by sharing their live birds of prey in many of our programs.

  • Cat Parrish

    "Needle Felted Owls" on February 10 included a visit from a live owl.

  • Andre Estey

    "Full Moon Walk & Campfire" on January 25.

  • Cat Parrish

    "Build a Nest Box" on January 27. Boxes may invite a kestrel or a screech owl, depending on where you hang it.

  • "Forester for a Day," on February 24th introduced young children to the life and work of foresters and those who work with wood. 

Looking to Spring!

We've been tending to all corners of our working farm as spring approaches, gearing up for the especially busy season ahead.

  • In late February, the garden staff planted the first seeds of 2024: onions, peas, beets, spinach, lettuce. The growing season has begun! Look for the crops this spring at the Farm Store.

  • This spring, we'll have two new accessible raised garden beds, thanks to the skills of Rob Hunter on staff (right). Gardener Josh Carter is excited to place them in the education gardens at the Farm Barn.

  • We're making delicious Vermont maple syrup out of the sap spilling from the 2,600 taps in our sugarbush. And the season's not over yet!

  • Winter is the time to prune the apple trees in the Children's Farmyard. Travis Bessette is on the job. Who loves this annual chore? (See next slide)

  • Our rabbits! Apple tree twigs are a choice snack for Freddy and Hazel, so they love apple tree pruning time.

Inspiring learners on our farm classroom

  • All winter long, students have been discovering who's "Active in Winter" by looking closely at the land—especially at animal tracks left in the snow (and sometimes in the mud!). These students from the Sustainability Academy in Burlington, VT are intrigued. Next school program? Sugaring!

  • At our recent Vacation Days, one student created a culminating cheeseboard masterpiece, with cheddar crocodiles, cheesy bridges, saltine stacks, carrot rivers, and pepper stars. In the future, she says, she would like to be "a chef, an artist, and a very smart person."

  • Middle schoolers from Shelburne Community School hone their recipe and skills for making perogies in an afterschool program. The team is preparing for the Junior Iron Chef competition on March 9th, coached by our Inn chefs and educators.

  • High school students participate in a "Climate Fresk," an activity designed to explore the facts, their feelings, and future actions to fight climate change. The students spend every Monday at the farm as part of the "Field and Forest" program at Champlain Valley Union High School.

  • Teachers are learners, too, and influence so many students. We welcomed 16 educators in early February for "Climate Creative," a workshop offering creative ideas for processing climate change data—and inspiring climate action—with their students. Their next gathering will be March 22nd.

Experimenting with Wacky Wheels

two images side by side: both of hand pouring maple syrup over small wheel of cheese that's inside a plastic bag

Creamery Manager Andi Wandt explains, "Every so often when we are hooping, we end up with a little extra curd. We can't let that go to waste! So we've developed a fun and delicious solution: As a creative R&D project, we've been making 10-pound 'Wacky Wheels' and infusing them with various ingredients: coffee, sweet chili peppers, cider. Herbs from the Market Garden may be next! Of course, we had to try some Shelburne Farms maple syrup." (pictured)

Tending to the animals

  • The dairy team adds new bedding sand to the barn every three to four weeks while the cows are inside in the winter. The sand reduces moisture and bacterial growth, and it's comfy! Calista, cow #835, approves.

  • We sheared our sheep flock in February to prepare them for lambing season.

Farm to School at the Statehouse

woman teacher standing with three middle school students in open doors to vermont statehouse testimony room in front of

February 8 was Farm to School and Early Childhood Awareness Day in the Legislature, and as a lead organization with the Vermont Farm to School and Early Child Network, we invited champions of the movement to share how farm to school is making a difference in their communities.

Read their testimonies and learn about our advocacy efforts this winter.

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