Thursday, July 12

a historic farm in Vermont preserved by the Rockefeller family holding and cherishing the past


Welcome to Part  3:
New England "nesting" views.
Take a tour with me of the historic Billings Farm 
in Vermont  
Sometimes when you travel you bring back a little "nesting" inspiration to your own home.  Who can't appreciate a beautiful rural environment, but we may not stop to think about how important the working farm has been to our country over the years.  The state of Vermont is one of the most picturesque in our nation and there are certainly many opportunities to take in the beautiful landscape and witness the commitment to the farming traditions.
We were fortunate to stay in the recently refurbished Woodstock Inn to visit friends and family.  The Inn has a beautiful golf course, indoor pool and spa and set on the edge of the town of Woodstock, which seems taken straight from a Norman Rockwell painting.  The town is  as beautiful today as it was over thirty years ago.   While it's rooted in New England Yankee tradition it has a decidedly modern feel and the restaurant overlooks the expansive gardens and the Green Mountains.  

While at the Inn they offered us the opportunity to visit a nearby farm that is now a preserved land trust and owned by the Rockefeller family.  With a long history of commitment to preservation the Rockefeller's affiliation cemented the hard work involved in preserving this historic farm.  
is just outside of Woodstock and still operates today as one of America's finest dairy farms.   Many blue ribbon "Jersey cows" have been bred on the farm, as can be seen from many many trophies lining the walls of the museum.  The farm has a long-standing commitment to keeping the farming community alive in Vermont.  
One part working farm, other part museum, the Billings farm depicts Vermont's rural roots and seems frozen in time, reminding of an almost lost rural life experienced  over 100 years ago.  They have some of the finest Jersey cows around as well as draft horses, chickens, sheep, and all set on beautiful, bucolic land.
 We were able to see up close the farm in action with a tour of the restored 1890 farm house.  We spoke to the barn manager who explained the milk is mostly used for butter, milk, cheese and ice cream products in New England.  Because of the richness of the milk Jersey cows produce, the milk is better used for these products rather than drinking milk.  There are hands-on exhibits throughout the farm, educational tours and many programs daily. My kids were fixated on the baby cows and their angelic faces...
Frederick Billings was a native Vermonter who started the farm in 1871, then he brought professional farmer George Aitken on board in 1884.  They imported cattle from the Isle of Jersey and continued to breed the cows producing fine milk in the east coast.  Billings was a dedicated preservationist and worked hard to keep the land in good shape including planting over 10,000 trees on the property. Today, the farm manages over 140 acres of meadows and pastured and farmland all set on the beautiful Ottaquechee River 
there are dozens of rooms designed as they would have been in the original farm set up as exhibits throughout the museum




through a serendipitous relationship of marriage to a Rockefeller, the Billings Farm came into an even more fortuitous path.  The farm is owned and operated by the Woodstock Foundation, which was founded by Mary and Laurance Rockefeller in 1968. Since the 1960s there has been much resources and time spent to keep this farm a part of American history.  There are opportunities to live on the farm for college students as summer internships, which shows a strong commitment to agriculture and placing an importance on passing these important skills onto future farmers.  The farm also offers daily educational programs and hands-on experiences to adults and kids.