Our farm is truly a labor of love. Situated on 81 acres in the small town of Chelsea, Vermont, it consists of a historic bank barn, a newly constructed two-story creamery, several outbuildings and the 1790 farmhouse that we call home. We spend each day working our land, caring for our goats, and producing the incredible gelato for which we are known.
Our farmstead, located on what’s known as Chelsea's West Hill, has a rich history. It began as the original Hood family farm and has been owned by just three other families, including us, since that time. We purchased the property in November 2011, but did not take up residence there until the spring of 2012.
Upon purchasing the property, the two-story bank barn was in dire need of work. While structurally sound, there were areas that were sagging, as well as a second floor needing adequate reinforcement before it would be reliable enough to sustain the use of heavy equipment. In addition, the main floor was on terribly uneven ground, divided into tiny stalls with permanent walls and cross beams that formed cumbersome steps into each area, rendering the space unsuitable for housing livestock, let alone moving and servicing it efficiently.
We debated heavily over whether to tear down the barn and build anew or to save the existing structure. After consulting with construction experts, who confirmed that it was in good structural shape, we decided to undertake the necessary work to restore the interior to proper working condition and preserve the historic nature of the barn, appreciating the aesthetic beauty it lends to the overall property.
Since that time, we have been steadily restoring the property to agricultural use. In the fall of 2014, we made a significant investment in renovating the barn, which included jacking it up in areas that were sagging, installing cables for additional support, reinforcing the floor joists to make the second floor suitable for hay storage and farm equipment, removing interior walls to make for a more flexible configuration better suited to housing and moving animals in the modern age, and building a 24x50-foot extension to increase the available space for livestock on the first floor.
At the same time, we installed drainage to a four-acre front pasture that was previously too wet for animals, making that pasture suitable for grazing, and put in a farm road that leads from Hook Road (the Road on which our farm is situated) to our barn. Previously, there was no direct access to the barn, which made it nearly impossible to bring in farm supplies, such as hay or construction materials.
In May 2015, we began work to excavate and build a second addition to the barn, a 18x36-foot space to accommodate a dairy parlor on one side, and a milk house on the other. The parlor/milk house was constructed by Michael with the help of a great friend and generous neighbor, Arthur Goodrich, and includes a 18x20-foot dairy parlor and an accompanying milk house. Simultaneously, we extended the farm road to form a loop around the barn, eliminating the need for delivery trucks to make a difficult turn-around.
In November 2015, we broke ground on a 16x36-foot creamery to be used for milk processing. Today, it is where all of our gelato production takes place. In addition to the main processing room, it contains a first-floor packaging room and a small farm office on the second floor.
Even now, we are still at the very beginning of our journey. We hope you will follow along with us.