A visit to Vermont resonates with travelers as tranquil, relaxing, unhurried, serene, and increasingly tasty. For years, travelers have enjoyed the culinary delights prepared by chefs ranging from New York City restaurant escapees to local talent trained by establishments like the New England Culinary Institute (NECI). DigInVT.com, a culinary tourism website showcases restaurants and foodie hot spots around the state, including dozens of food trails depicted by region or product. As more people make connections with where their food comes from, farm stays and on-the-farm visits and adventures are one sweet travel ticket—referred to by industry insiders as agritourism.
While trends soar in popularity surrounding farm fresh food, Vermont leads the nation in comprehensive food system planning and authentic agritourism experiences. The state’s Farm to Plate Initiative—legislatively directed to double local food production and consumption by 2020—maintains the Vermont Food System Atlas—a statewide food and farm inventory website that further connects farmers and resources to strengthen economic opportunities. Agritourism is a growing market sector for Vermont farmers, and popular with locals and tourists alike.
The Northeast Kingdom is the most vastly rural landscape in Vermont and home to some of Vermont’s headiest food businesses. Newport, Vermont is all-the-rage these days with Jay Peak Resort's economic development projects, the Fresh By Newport local farm and downtown restaurant matchmaking, and the brand new Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center—think farm fresh local food tasting fair.
Liberty Hill Farm in Rochester, Vermont is a working dairy farm with approximately 270 Robeth Holsteins grazing the mountain-backed meadows. Tucked majestically into the working landscape the 1890’s red barn with cupola is one of the most photographed barns in all of Vermont, also featured on the cover of the most recent VERMONT: An Explorer’s Guide. Beth and Bob Kennett have been providing farm vacations since 1984 with lodging, farm fresh meals, and optional chores on the farm. If you forget your rubber boots, there are plenty to spare!
Recognized by Yankee Magazine in 2013 for “Best Hands-On Farm Programs” in New England, Shelburne Farms is a non-profit working farm located on the shores of Lake Champlain. The Children’s Farmyard sets the bar high for experiences where little ones can milk a cow or goat, play in a chicken parade, collect eggs, spin wool, work in a garden, and brush a sheep, goat, or rabbit. A farm to plate restaurant serves produce, meat, cheese, and maple syrup harvested directly on the farm. Oodles of accolades are well-earned at this Vermont working landscape educational institution.
Dining on the farm, in the field with others who want to enjoy a freshly harvested meal is the specialty at the Sandiwood Farm to Fork Sunset Dinners in Wolcott. Using produce grown on the farm and other local farm ingredients, chef Sandi prepares a farm to plate experience that promises to be an exceptionally unique event. Each dinner features an artistically created menu with copious amounts of farm fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits, meats, and flowers. With so much abundant produce there is always vegetarian options and special dietary needs can be accommodated.
Looking for an accessible and fun way to visit small farms, vineyards, and cheese makers? Vermont Farm Tours offers personalized culinary excursions as well as on-farm cheese making workshops. Owner, Chris Howell introduces guests to local farmers, cheese makers, and winemakers, enabling visitors the opportunity to meet with Vermont's artisan producers and taste what they're making. There's something magical about enjoying good food with the person who made it on the soil it comes from. As Chris says, "you are where you eat."
Visit DigInVT.com to be connected with nearly 400 authentic Vermont food experiences and stay tuned for a mobile app called ViewBoost that will help locate agritourism experiences around Vermont.