• Editor's Note Spring 2014

    Editor's Note Spring 2014

    Every now and then, I wonder what life would be like without any small farms. If Vermont’s diversified farmers were to pack up and sell out. If there were no longer a neighborhood farmers’ market to wander through on a Saturday morning. If those of us who regularly buy local food had to go back to fondling Chilean apples and freakishly large carrots at the grocery store.

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  • Set the Table with Dandelion Greens

    Set the Table with Dandelion Greens

    I’ve spent years walking past any dandelion greens I see for sale, on the grounds that I will not pay for something that’s growing everywhere I look all spring and summer. Granted, I never stop to pick those free dandelion leaves, so inevitably, a vegetable that I won’t buy because it’s too common ends up not being at all common on my plate. It’s the Dandelion Paradox. This past winter, I wanted to unravel it.

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  • Think Globally, Dine Locally

    Think Globally, Dine Locally

    Last year I was excited when the Burlington-based weekly Seven Days published an insert featuring restaurants participating in Vermont Restaurant Week. I couldn’t wait to sample dishes from some of the highly touted localvore eateries I’d read about since moving to Vermont three years earlier.
    When I opened up the insert, however, the number of advertisements featuring photos of hamburgers and fries surprised me.

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  • Fired Up on Local

    Fired Up on Local

    Given that chile peppers—the main ingredient in hot sauce—are relatively easy to grow in Vermont, it’s possible to make hot sauce a highly localvore product. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Ben Maniscalco, who launched Benito’s Hot Sauce in 2009, goes out of his way to source ingredients from local farms.

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  • Flourishing in the Fields

    Flourishing in the Fields

    Tucked into a scenic hillside just off of Route 5 in Westminster is Kurn Hattin Homes for Children. Founded 120 years ago, Kurn Hattin is a charitable year-round home for boys and girls from around the Northeast whose families—for whatever reason—are unable to care for them.

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  • Horticultural Therapy

    Horticultural Therapy

    The day is warm and clear. I am in my work uniform, which consists of shorts and a tank top; this is all I can stand to put on, for the heat of early summer is strong upon us. My supervisor, an elderly woman who needs the assistance of a walker to get around, is wearing a light sweater and long pants. “Aren’t you cold?” she asks suspiciously, as she watches me turn the soil in a bed designated for the season’s heirloom tomatoes.

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  • Fields, with Geese

    Fields, with Geese

    In an email sent just before our first date, in February of 2013, Wesley Bascom posed a multiple-choice question. “Are you interested in serving goose...?” he asked. The choices he provided for my response were: a) “Totally down to pluck!” b) “Maybe. I will take a gander at it.” c) “Foie gras? More like foie naw.”

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  • From Nano to Micro

    From Nano to Micro

    The day I went out to visit Bret Hamilton’s new microbrewery, Stone Corral, on idyllic Taft Road in Huntington, the 32-degree weather felt downright balmy. It was early January, and we’d just had one of the coldest snaps I’d ever felt in Vermont—wind chills down in the 30-below range.

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  • The Thorny Issue of Farmer Pay

    The Thorny Issue of Farmer Pay

    At a wedding last summer, I sat next to a neighbor who buys her Thanksgiving turkey from our farm. She described her daily drive-by dose of the farm, and her ritual of slowing down to see where the goats, pigs, and poultry had been moved. She said, “I’ve gotten to the point I think I should pay a toll to pass your place!” I joked, “In order for us to survive it might come to that!”  The conversation awkwardly fell off. But it has preoccupied me since.

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  • Farmers' Kitchen—Planet Pollinators

    Farmers' Kitchen—Planet Pollinators

    As I look out my window in early January at my beehives, I’m in awe of how bees do what they do. The temperature is well below zero, the wind is blowing, and snow is falling. Yet if I bundle up to brave the elements, go outside, and put my ear against the side of one of the hives, I can hear the low rumble of my bees.

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  • Good Food, Good Health

    Good Food, Good Health

    I’m a farmer, and my favorite place in Vermont is a farm—one that has a surprise at its core. The surprise isn’t the lovely old farmhouse on the property or the 11 acres of organically farmed vegetables, but the fact that the farm and its bounty are part and parcel of my doctor’s office: Sojourns Community Health Clinic in Westminster.

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Good Food, Good Health

The apothecary at Sojourns Health Clinic
The apothecary at Sojourns Health Clinic

Written By

Kim Peavey

Written on

February 21 , 2014

I’m a farmer, and my favorite place in Vermont is a farm—one that has a surprise at its core. The surprise isn’t the lovely old farmhouse on the property or the 11 acres of organically farmed vegetables, but the fact that the farm and its bounty are part and parcel of my doctor’s office: Sojourns Community Health Clinic in Westminster.
Mountains, farm fields, towering pines and maples, and herb and flower gardens frame the clinic, located in the 1800s farmhouse. Inside, the waiting room is not a waiting room, but an invitation. The walls are a light-saturated deep orange. There are live plants. There is beautiful music. There are windows, with beautiful views. There are armchairs. There is hot herbal tea if I’d like it. On the ground floor is the apothecary, well supplied with supplements, minerals, vitamins, tinctures, and teas. An infrared sauna is available. Local and regional art is showcased on the upper level. Peace cranes of all colors descend from ceiling to floor near the stairwell.

And just beyond the farmhouse, there’s the farm. It is farmed organically by the Harlow family, who own Harlow Farm, also in Westminster. Paul Harlow grows a variety of vegetables on the Sojourns land, including Swiss chard, lettuce, cabbage, sweet corn, green beans, and potatoes, and sells the produce through a farm stand, CSA shares, and wholesale. The Harlows farm the land with the agreement that some of the crops are donated to local food shelves and schools, and the fields are gleaned as part of the Vermont Food Bank gleaning project. (Sojourns practitioners are also welcome to glean there for personal use.)
This relationship to local, sustainable agriculture was written into the founding documents of Sojourns. It is “part of the vision of who we are and what we do,” according to naturopathic physician Clif Steinberg. Founded in 2000 by Dr. Linda Haltinner, a chiropractic physician, Sojourns is an interdisciplinary medical clinic, offering primary care, biological medicine, women’s care, wellness support, and extensive health education to both clients and the local community. Today it is home to more than 20 practitioners who combine standard allopathic health care with the best of alternative treatments.
“Good health care is intrinsically connected to the land, and to good food practices,” Clif says. “In order to be healthy individuals, we need a healthy local economy and environment.”
The local economy and environment are definite priorities in the clinic’s apothecary, impressively stocked with a wealth of local products: supplements from DaVinci Lab, a Vermont-based company; body balms and butters from Stones of Wisdom of West Brattleboro; insect repellent from Skeeter Scatter, also of Brattleboro; healing salves from Jill Kiel of Putney; herbal extracts and tinctures from plants gathered in Vermont and Massachusetts by clinic herbalist Bonnie Bloom of Blue Crow Botanicals; locally harvested chaga mushrooms for tea and mushroom extracts for year-round immune support from Mission Mushroom in Guilford; and unheated raw honey from Dick Brigham’s in Shrewsbury.
And of course, there are the clinic’s own medicinal herb gardens, inaugurated in 2012 on Climate Action Day and Cinco de Mayo. The gardens are maintained by volunteers and staff practitioners, and already provide calendula, nettles, and hops for the clinic’s apothecary.
At Sojourns, there are MDs, NDs, RNs, PTs, OTs, chiropractors, and nutritionists. There are options for primary care, preventative and family medicine, women’s health, and biological medicine. But that’s not all. The nurse practitioner is also a licensed acupuncturist. The executive director is also a homeopath. The physical therapist also offers craniosacral therapy. And one of the massage therapists also has a little three-legged pooch with big eyes and a waggy tail, named Miss Bee. Miss Bee is a registered therapy dog.
Sojourns is a new model in medicine, a holistic model, one that recognizes that people are just that—people, with concerns of the mind, body, and spirit, and not merely diseases to be dissected or problems to be solved. As a biodynamic farmer, I like to view my own farm in a similar way, as a whole organism, worthy of care and attention on manifold levels. From the front desk to the practitioners’ rooms to the billing office, the Sojourns clinic—no, the people at the clinic—have always treated me as a whole person, and that in itself promotes well-being.
Sojourns showcases some of the best aspects of Vermont life with its focus on what is local, human, sustainable, compassionate, and agricultural. And this focus rises organically from the very ground where it grows and thrives.

About the Author

Kim Peavey

Kim Peavey

Kim Peavey farms and writes in southwestern New Hampshire, where she and her family—along with two teams of draft horses—grow vegetables biodynamically for 100 local families through a CSA program. See hillsidespringsfarm.com for more information on the horse- and hand-powered farm, the CSA, or Kim’s writing.

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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.


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