• Editor's Note Spring 2017

    Editor's Note Spring 2017

    This spring I’ll be leaving Vermont’s Local Banquet after 10 years as its editor. The past decade hasn’t just been a banquet—it’s been a feast!

    Continue Reading

  • Set the Table with TV dinners

    Set the Table with TV dinners

    “I unabashedly describe myself as a local food advocate,” wrote Marlboro College student Nathaniel Brooks in 2015, as he was launching his new business. “I see re-localizing our food system as a key lever for shifting our culture away from its current path toward one of greater interconnection, mindfulness, and sustainability.”

    Continue Reading

  • Here Comes the Sun

    Here Comes the Sun

    Driving around Vermont, people are treated to all kinds of pastoral views. There are acres of cornfields, apple orchards with boughs bending under the weight of ripe fruit, and Holsteins looking as placid as the ones on a Ben & Jerry’s label.

    Continue Reading

  • Soil Heals:

    Soil Heals:

    When you speak with Jon Turner about his diversified farm in Bristol, he talks about the same things many other organic farmers do: the cohesion between species, the value of biodiversity, soil health.

    Continue Reading

  • Tying Traditions Together: The Marshfield School of Weaving

    Tying Traditions Together: The Marshfield School of Weaving

    Down a dirt road on the Marshfield/Plainfield line sits an ordinary barn that houses the only school in the U.S. that teaches historical textile arts using antique technology: barn looms.

    Continue Reading

  • The Perception of Industrial Agriculture

    The Perception of Industrial Agriculture

    Until recently, I was a member of the UVM Extension faculty, helping to develop Vermont’s emerging livestock industries as the state livestock specialist.

    Continue Reading

  • The Meaning of Organic

    The Meaning of Organic

    The produce section of any grocery story offers an array of choices, from mass-produced potatoes to locally grown greens, and many items sport labels indicating the conditions under which those foods were grown.

    Continue Reading

  • Urine as Fertilizer?

    Urine as Fertilizer?

    At the Rich Earth Institute in Brattleboro, staff, board members, and the many local “peecyclers” who contribute to the group’s Urine Nutrient Reclamation Project (UNRP) pepper their conversations with pee-related humor and hold an annual “Piss-off” contest for who can donate the most urine.

    Continue Reading

  • Farmers' Kitchen—Singular Syrup

    Farmers' Kitchen—Singular Syrup

    A few years ago, our friend Bucky came home from a visit to his daughter in Alaska with a bottle of Alaskan birch syrup.

    Continue Reading

  • Last Morsel—Appreciating  Neighbors

    Last Morsel—Appreciating Neighbors

    “Neighbor” and “community” are two words that show up frequently in our weekly farm blog.

    Continue Reading

0
Shares

Springing Ahead

Spring Lake Ranch

Written By

Chris Turner

Written on

September 01 , 2008

I came to Spring Lake Ranch last March, around the same time Marshall did. But we arrived at the farm under very different circumstances.

Spring Lake Ranch is a farm-based therapeutic community in Cuttingsville, 10 miles from Rutland. Its mission is to help people with mental health and substance abuse issues find value and focus in their lives, primarily through community living and working the land. The work program makes up the core of our daily activities, and is divided into Farm, Gardens, Woods, and Shop. Residents come to the ranch for an average stay of six months, although there are no prescribed limits.

I left Westchester County in New York in March to work here as a house advisor. I was placed on the Woods crew for my first month, and was fortunate enough to catch the end of sugaring. Soon I took on a niche position in the Gardens department running the Ranch’s stand at the Rutland Farmers’ Market. There I help residents sell a variety of products that we produce on the farm: yarn from our sheep, syrup from the trees, cookies from our kitchen, chairs from the shop. Being at market has continually provided me with rewarding experiences that have only reinforced my dream of one day owning a farm.

For his part, Marshall came to the Ranch about six months ago, after a DUI accident convinced him that he had a serious problem. In that time, he has worked almost exclusively on the Farm crew, taking care of a variety of animals, including cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens. Marshall enjoys the work, but appreciates that the Ranch allows him time to focus on his own needs.

“Taking care of animals is a lot of work no matter where you are,” Marshall says. “But there’s a good balance here that keeps it therapeutic.” Today, Marshall is taking a course at Community College of Vermont, cooking meals on his own for fellow residents, and making plans for the Ranch’s aftercare program and culinary school. I‘ve gotten to know him through sharing music, preparing meals and, quite simply, by listening whenever I can. We share similar backgrounds and mutual honesty.

Those at the Ranch who understand and cultivate the idea of community—both residents and staff—tend to be the ones who gain the most from our program. But community doesn’t end at the bottom of our hill. Recently I took a small group of residents out to volunteer for a gleaning project at Dutchess Farm in Castleton. There, we gathered peas, squash, zucchini, and chard to be delivered to local food service agencies rather than going back into the ground. When we arrived that day, we worked alongside a small group from Smokey House Center (see adjacent article). I learned then that not only are our farm-based programs similar and close by, they are both steeped in the values of community.

About the Author

Chris Turner

Chris Turner

Chris Turner graduated from SUNY Purchase last year with a degree in environmental studies. He will be starting grad school at Goddard College in Plainfield in the fall, studying sustainable agriculture and conservation finance.

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest. Optional login below.

What we do

A quarterly magazine devoted to covering local food, sustainable farming, and the many people building the Vermont food system.

Vermont's Local Banquet Magazine illuminates the connections between local food and Vermont communities. Our stories, interviews, and essays reveal how Vermont residents are building their local food systems, how farmers are faring in a time of great opportunity and challenge, and how Vermont’s agricultural landscape is changing as the localvore movement shapes what is grown and raised here.

Connect

Sign up for quarterly notifications and issue highlights.
Please wait