In just five years, Norah Lake and Chris Polashenski of Sweetland Farm have built a thriving vegetable, livestock, and hay business. When they first moved to the land that they’d bought on Route 132 through VLT’s Farmland Access Program, Norah began an informal CSA-style farmstand. “I had an email list and would let people know when vegetables were available, and what varieties were in stock,” she said. Many of those original customers are now loyal members of Sweetland Farm’s weekly organic produce share, which serves 180 families in the Upper Valley.
Members pick up their boxes of fresh veggies at the farmstead on Route 132, flanked by greenhouses, a large white barn, and a pick-your-own garden of flowers and herbs. Others visit the on-farm store to buy Sweetland Farm’s pasture-raised pork, lamb, or chicken, along with products like eggs, honey, and maple syrup from nearby farms.
Chris’s parents, Jessica and Edward Polashenski, bought a 32-acre parcel adjacent to Sweetland Farm with the intention of one day being able to sell it to their son and daughter-in-law. After VLT conserved the land this October, Norah and Chris were able to buy the land at its reduced agricultural value. The soils there are an excellent fit for growing vegetables, and will allow the couple to improve crop rotations.
“This is a realization of what we’ve been hoping for since our original business plan,” said Norah. “The extra parcel will help us meet our goal of adding 50 more CSA shares.” She is also planning to expand by renovating the on-farm store and selling wholesale orders to restaurants.
The Ompompanoosuc River meanders along the eastern boundary of the property, while one of its tributaries flows across the property from the west. These waterways and their wetlands are now protected so that they will continue to provide valuable habitat for plants and animals, including the wood turtle, an uncommon reptile in Vermont.
Funded by VHCB (with matching funds from USDA NRCS) and by the Forrest & Frances Lattner Foundation.