MONTPELIER, Vt. — Strolling, hiking, running, and meandering along a farm trail can be added to the list of agritourism activities encouraged on Vermont farms, thanks to the newly formed Farm Walk Trail network. The Farm Walk Trail network is a collaborative initiative of food, farming and agritourism organizations brought together to create a directory of walking trails on farms across the state. Network partners include: Farm-Based Education Network, NOFA-VT, Shelburne Farms, UVM Extension, Vermont Fresh Network / DigInVT, and the Vermont Department of Tourism & Marketing, all of whom collaborate through the Vermont Farm to Plate Network Agritourism Task Force.
Hosted on agritourism website DigInVT.com, the Vermont Farm Walk Trail network is built on the idea that farms are places for both production and recreation. Momentum for the project grew over time, as organizers observed the success of the countryside walking culture in Europe, and other international destinations. The onset of COVID-19 catalyzed the project, as people sought safe places to be outdoors.
“Vermont is known for offering world class agritourism experiences,” said Heather Pelham, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing. “It has been a challenging summer for the entire tourism and hospitality sector, and farmers have had the added stress of hot dry weather. The Farm Walks Project is a bright spot. It’s about getting out to know your neighbors, while being safe and outdoors. This is what Vermont is all about.”
“We believe in sharing our land,” Peter Forbes of Knoll Farm in Fayston, one of the participating farmers said, “and at this moment everyone needs beauty, health and access to nature.” Knoll Farm offers daily passes to the farm, so they know at all times who is on the property and can cap the number of visitors. Each farm has their own system for welcoming visitors to their trails: some ask to be notified ahead-of-time and have set hours, while others encourage walkers to stop by and enjoy the views.
“Exploring outside is essential to building a sense of place, and learning about community,” Dana Hudson said. Dana works with Vermont FEED, a program of Trail project organizers, Shelburne Farms and NOFA-VT. “With most Vermont schools having Farm to School programs, many of our kids are connected to farms in one way or another, but school looks different right now. I’m excited that some kids will be able to get onto farms with their families through taking a farm walk.”
When searching for a farm to visit on DigInVT.com, walkers are encouraged to read the description fully, which shares open hours, trail highlights, hazards that may be encountered, fees, and whether you should call ahead or can just show up. Visitors should expect to find trails in varying condition, from mowed footpaths to well worn hikes. Those with mobility concerns should contact the farm before visiting. All walkers are asked to read the Farm Walks Trail Ethic and review the Farm Walks During COVID-19 Guidelines before setting out.
Whether you’re lacing up your hiking boots and stocking your bag with provisions (sometimes from the farm itself) or are looking for short, tranquil stroll, Vermont farms have a lot to offer. For more information on the Farm Walk Trail Network and ways to plan your own farm walk, visit https://www.diginvt.com/farmwalks. For farms interested in learning more about participating, contact DigInVT at email@example.com.
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont promotes organic practices to build an economically viable, ecologically sound and socially just Vermont agricultural system that benefits all living things. We are proud to have nearly 1100 members throughout the state and, through our program Vermont Organic Farmers, to certify over 775 farms and processors to the USDA National Organic Program Standards.
About the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing
Located within the Agency of Commerce & Community Development, the Department of Tourism and Marketing promotes Vermont’s travel, recreation, cultural and historic attractions, and illuminates the state’s vibrant economy, businesses, and innovative entrepreneurs. VermontVacation.com. ThinkVermont.com.
About Vermont Fresh Network and DigInVT.com
The Vermont Fresh Network (VFN) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, building a strong local food system through the connections between farmers, chefs, and consumers who value their contribution to healthy communities, environment, and local economies. Since 1996, we have worked to ensure that the farmer-chef connection is a strong part of agricultural development and that consumers can support this work by where they choose to dine. Visit http://www.vermontfresh.net/. DigInVT.com offers an online portal and event guide to authentic food & farm experiences in Vermont. DigInVT is a partnership of 10 Vermont food and farm nonprofit organizations who are committed to promoting, preserving, and supporting Vermont’s working landscape.
About the University of Vermont Extension
For more than 100 years, University of Vermont (UVM) Extension has delivered education tailored to local needs. Faculty and staff, located in 12 offices around the state, help improve the quality of life of Vermonters through research-based educational programs and practical information. UVM Extension integrates higher education, research and outreach to help individuals and communities put knowledge to work in their families and homes, farms, businesses, towns and the natural environment.
About the Farm-Based Education Network
The FBEN is a free member network created to strengthen and support the work of farmers, educators, and community leaders who provide access and experiences of all kinds on working farms. Our mission is to inspire, nurture, and promote farm-based education. The FBEN is a project administered by Shelburne Farms and supported by regional groups, advisers, and founding partners.
About Shelburne Farms
Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit educational organization whose mission is to inspire and cultivate learning for a sustainable future. Based on Abenaki land along the shores of Lake Champlain, our campus is a 1,400-acre working farm, forest, and National Historic Landmark.
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