July Farm Tour in Hartland

written by Larissa Banwell

Breadseed Poppy & Perennial Wheat


One of the many great things about the Upper Valley is the number of local organic farms that reside here. This past weekend the Co-op took advantage of that fact and hosted the first of its two Farm Tours, an opportunity for community members to learn not just the details of how farms run, but also the goals and philosophies behind them.

This first Farm Tour was actually a visit to two neighboring farms, Sylvia Davatz’s Solstice Seeds and Brian Stroffolino’s Heartland Farms, who focus on collaboration over competition. Brian, who rents his land from Sylvia, had little farming experience before starting Heartland Farms. In the two years that this farm has been running Sylvia has been his mentor. He’s adopted her enthusiasm for seed saving, working the land by hand, and using hay mulch for most everything. This similarity in their approach to farming encourages collaboration, while differing crops and goals avoids competition.


Seed Fennel


Walking onto Sylvia’s property, you will be taken in by her orderly gardens and orchard. The stone walled beds and the close quarters of a wide variety of plants gives the sense of a decorative landscape, but amongst these features are the functionary rows of crop. Some of these crops are for eating, but most are for generating seeds. Even many of the edible plants are left untouched to make sure that they produce bountiful seeds.

As Sylvia introduces herself, she explains why seed collecting is so important to her. There’s a value in having your own seeds to plant for the next year. It’s important to know how they were grown and processed. Things like how they were stored over winter can have a big impact on how well the plant grows the following year, or years down the line. There’s also the simple fact of knowing, without doubt, that this seed will do well in your particular climate.




That’s another one of Sylvia’s passions, and one of the philosophies behind her farm: experimenting with new varieties to find out what grows well in her climate. And she points out that her climate is not the northeast or even the upper valley, but Hartland specifically. This year she’s growing peas, and noting how each variety is doing as the season progresses. She’s also planted three varieties of peanuts, a borderline crop, to see how they’ll do.


Heartland Farms High Tunnel


Sylvia’s farm is basically a research farm, with experimentation a constant. Just next door, Brian’s farm is a food production farm. While he has a few crops that he grows for seed, or for experimentation, the majority of his crops are for Heartland Farms’ CSA. He often has four or five rows committed to the same crop, as opposed to Sylvia’s small row containing 12 to 20 plants. Many of these crops were grown from seeds that he got from Sylvia. Brian gets the assurance of knowing his crops will grow well, and Sylvia gets to see how the plants grow and mature, as compared to the parent plants. It’s an arrangement that benefits everyone. Farming is often thought to be a competitive business, but with the right set up collaboration can be extremely successful.


Vegetarian Lunch Provided by the Upper Valley Food Co-op


The second Farm Tour for the summer will be at Free Verse Farm in Chelsea, VT. This small community herb farm specializes in naturally-grown tisanes (herbal teas), culinary herbs, medicinals, and herbal remedies. You’ll be able to taste and smell all the herbs they have growing, and learn about the variety of uses for herbs. The tour will be August 23, from 11am to 2pm. If you’d like to register you can sign up in store or call 295-5804 or email chris@uppervalleyfood.coop

Product Highlights for July

coles New to our grocery shelves are Cole’s Sardines. From their recycled packaging to selecting only all-natural products that meet our strict standards for sustainable farming and fishing methods, Cole’s brings you great gourmet taste with a conscience.


new chapter We now have Turmeric Force in the Value Size, 120ct. New Chapter vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements are a whole-food complex – something your body easily recognizes and absorbs. Sourced from nature’s bounty of organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and superfoods and cultured in probiotics to deliver the full spectrum of Nature’s benefits.    


timberdoodle New to our Cheese Cave is Timberdoodle, a Tallegio-style cheese from Woodcock Farm, located in Weston, VT. This rectangular cheese has a sticky orange rind and a creamy soft interior. The rind imparts much of the strong flavor to the cheese and is complemented by the smooth texture and creamy, fresh flavors of the interior.

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Upcoming July Events

We will be closed for July 4th, so make sure to get your shopping done early!

Take the UVFC Farm Tour!

Take the UVFC Farm Tour!

Saturday, July 12th, we will be hosting a Farm Tour of Solstice Seeds and Heartland Farms in Hartland, VT. These farms are located right next door to each other. They are offering a guided tour opportunity. The first tour begins at 11am and the second at 1pm. Cost is $15 with a vegetarian lunch provided at noon. You must register ahead of time if you are interested in this event. By phone: 802.295.5804, by email: chris@uppervalleyfood.coop, or in person at the front end of the store.



Saturday, July 19th, we have our last Sew-op class of the Summer, Chalkboard Mats with Sally. This class will be from 10am-noon, $20 for Co-op members, $25 for non-members, $30 per sibling team.


Cat Pest & Weed IDThursday, July 24th, there will be a workshop in the Community Garden at Ratcliffe Park on Latham Works Lane. Cat Buxton will be stopping by at 6pm to share some information on weed and bug identification. This is a FREE workshop open to the Upper Valley Community and a yearly event!




Starting Saturday, July 26th, we will be doing a store reset. The goals for this reset are two-fold. One is to ease traffic flow in areas where it tends to get jammed and the other is to consolidate the bulk offerings. Please bear with us as we start packing up parts of the store Saturday evening. We’ll be closed all day on Sunday, and we’ll open again Monday at noon.

To register for an event, or if you’d like to help with the reset, email Chris Jacobson at chris@uppervalleyfood.coop or call 802-295-5804.

Warm Weather Product Highlight

Buzz Away Extreme

You no longer have to choose between being bite-free or chemical-free. Buzz Away Extreme’s proprietary DEET-free formula of natural ingredients has been proven to offer protection against mosquitoes, ticks, flies and gnats. Made with natural ingredients and essential plant oils including soy, geranium, cedarwood, citronella, peppermint, eucalyptus and lemongrass.


Green Toys EcoSaucer and Jump Rope

The Green Toys EcoSaucer™ Flying Disc is made in the U.S.A. from 100% recycled plastic grocery bags that save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while the eco-jumper is made with US-made 100% cotton rope (7 feet long and adjustable) and 100% recycled plastic handles. All Green Toys products are packaged in recycled corrugated boxes with no plastics, cellophane or twist-ties, and are 100% recyclable.


BugBand Insect Repellent Wristbands

BugBand wristband is a great multi-purpose, natural bug repellent. A good choice for recreational and lighter-duty applications, it is designed with a patented break-away strap that snaps if it becomes entangled. It can be worn on belt loops, hatbands, pet collars, fastened in tents, attached to baby carriages or applied to other areas where insects could be a problem.


Badger Sunscreen & Outdoor essentials

Badger is a small, family-owned & family-friendly company nestled on the banks of the Ashuelot River in rural Gilsum, New Hampshire. They blend organic plant extracts, exotic oils and butters and beeswax, and make safe mineral sunscreens and other personal care products that work and feel remarkably good. They hold every single ingredient to the “Badger Natural Standard”, a rigorous look at the growth, sustainability, and supply chain of each ingredient they use.

© 2014 Upper Valley Food Cooperative