One of the absolutes of travel is that it is the best form of education and, at Vermont’s Shelburne Farms, guests and visitors are immersed in the land and all that it does to sustain our existence. Young and old alike learn about agriculture, animal husbandry, sustainability, and stewardship in the pastoral surroundings of historic Shelburne Farms.
The Inn at Shelburne Farms cuts an imposing figure that lends gravity to their mission to inspire and cultivate learning for a sustainable future. They are part of an international groundswell of people and organizations dedicated to shaping a better world. Built in the late 1880s, the former residence of William Seward Webb and Lila Vanderbilt is a working farm that raises beef and lamb, produces award-winning Shelburne cheddar cheese from their herd of Brown Swiss cows, and provides 1/3 of the produce served at the inn’s restaurant. More than 145,000 people visit each year; exploring the land, making connections between nature, food & community, and experiencing the pastoral beauty of the Farm.
Located on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shelburne, Vermont, Shelburne Farms’ is a non-profit organization; its campus is a 1,400-acre working landscape and National Historic Landmark. Charitable contributions and its program-support enterprises support the non-profit: a grass-based dairy and award-winning farmstead cheesemaking operation, an organic market garden, maple sugaring and sustainable lumber production, special events, and internationally recognized Inn and farm-to-table restaurant.
Visit Shelburne Farms
The Farm welcomes visitors for day visits from mid-May to mid-October from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $8/adults; $7/seniors; $5/children age 3-17. Day visits begin at the Welcome Center and Farm Store where you learn more about Shelburne Farms’ agritourism experiences:
- 10 miles of walking trails through forest, pastures, and gardens with expansive views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks, and the Green Mountains.
- Children’s Farmyard with sheep, goats, dairy cows, and play area.
- Farm Store featuring Shelburne Farms cheese and other Vermont farm products and crafts, as well as books on agriculture and education for sustainability.
- Cheesemaking operation – one of the first farmstead cheesemakers in Vermont and the first farm in Vermont to be Certified Humane.
Visiting in the off-season? The trails are open to walkers for free (weather permitting), but the Children’s Farmyard is closed, as are the Inn and all Tours.
We met Josh Carter, Market Gardener for the 7-acre Certified Organic diversified garden. His passion for educating children (and adults) on the importance of sustainability and knowing where your food comes from is palpable. We talked about varieties of heirloom tomatoes and beans, starting shiitake mushrooms, the unusual Jelly melon (aka Kiwano Horned melon), and the gorgeous dahlias currently in bloom. The food produced in the greenhouses are used for Shelburne Farms’ educational program, supplies the restaurant at the Inn at Shelburne Farms, and is sold at the local farmers’ markets. Plus, the Market Garden composts and recycles 100% of the Inn’s kitchen scraps – an astonishing 18 tons per year!
Learn About Cheesemaking at Shelburne Farms
Make sure to pop in to see the cheesemaking operation during your visit to Shelburne Farms. We timed our visit to catch the “cheddaring” process when the whey is drained and the curds are raked and stacked. Shelburne Farms has been crafting cheddar cheese using raw milk from its heard of 120 Brown Swiss cows since 1981. Currently, they produce 165,000 pounds of cheese a year, and it ages from six months to four years. Our group of travel writers received a special tasting treat: a lovely cheese board selection of their award-winning 6-month, 1-year, 2-year, and smoked cheddar cheeses. Be sure and purchase a few blocks of Shelburne cheddar cheese to enjoy with wine at your hotel or bring home as gifts — your family and friends will love you even more.
Dine at the Inn at Shelburne Farms
As you would expect given its provenance, The Inn at Shelburne Farms is an elegant 24-room country house that provides guests a unique agritourism experience unlike any in the U.S. A founding member of the Vermont Fresh Network, and are recognized annually with the network’s “Gold Barn Honor” for serving local food. The inn sources 75% of food from within Vermont and 1/3 from the farm’s gardens, pastures, and forest. Our group enjoyed a fantastic farm fresh breakfast before our tour and the menu proudly lists the local purveyors that contribute to their outstanding cuisine. After our deliciously relaxing repast, we had a chance to meet Executive Chef Jim McCarthy and hear how the farm’s bounty inspires his creativity and informs the Inn’s menu selections. Each time you stay or dine at the Inn you are supporting the Farms’ education programs.
Community programs and special events also help support the non-profit work of Shelburne Farms. The season is coming to a close, but tours run through October 21st and there are still some fun activities coming up in October and November, such as “A” is for Apples on November 17th — a family activity where you get into the kitchen with Vermont’s favorite fruit and turn apples into tasty treats. On December 9th, is Winter Gifts & Craft Making where you and the kids learn how to make easy, holiday goodies to give as gifts and create “green” crafts with natural and recycled materials. Check out Shelburne’s event calendar for more details and to register.
1611 Harbor Road • Shelburne, Vermont 05482
802-985-8686 (main) • 802-985-8498 (inn reservations)
Email: [email protected]
Transformational travel and sustainable travel are growing trends in the travel industry. Travelers are looking for transformational experiences – they want to be changed: informed, educated, and enlightened. Shelburne Farms is a destination in itself as well as a must-do when visiting Vermont for solo, couples, family or multi-generational travelers.
Educating For Sustainable Development
As a result of Shelburne Farms and its partners’ work, Vermont’s Greater Burlington was officially designated as a Regional Center of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development by the United Nations in 2015. These education programs include:
Professional Development for Educators
School Field Trips
Farm to School
Sustainable Schools Project
Early Childhood Education
Disclosure: My tour and breakfast at Shelburne Farms was hosted by Shelburne Farms. All opinions expressed are my own.