The Journey For A Better Life
After living in the hustle and bustle life of South Florida for over 35 years, we decided it was time to pack our bags up and return to our roots, the life and beauty of the northeastern Unites States. We have been blessed to find this beautiful farm, meet incredible new friends, and thrill to learning something new everyday, all the while enjoying the tranquility of life in Southern Vermont.
ABOUT LANDIA HILL FARM
As with most things in this part of the country, the farm has a rather long history most of which is a process of learning and digging up information as you go along. So we'll take a bit of a journey here...
The farm is covered with multiple stone walls that at times intersect in seemingly impossible locations. In speaking with the local Forestry Agent we learned that up to and just after the American Civil War [1861-1865] almost 90% of the entire Windsor County had been deforested to accommodate for raising sheep and cows, corn, wheat and other food staples. What seemed like random fencing in the middle of impossibly steep and deep woods now makes perfect sense, although I will admit that I cannot understand how a 3 foot high stone wall could keep in either a cow or a flock of sheep! Our Forestry Agent went on to inform us that not only was our own County vastly deforested, but almost 90% of the ENTIRE STATE OF VERMONT was too, including the Green Mountain range! It truly boggles the mind. But after the Civil War, America and Americans set about opening up the Midwest and West in a big way and quickly learned it's much easier to raise livestock and crops in the flat fertile fields of the Midwest versus the rocky, damp cold of New England. Again, makes perfect sense. Vermont held onto dairy production much longer than most New England states but as we see today, even that is fading slowly away.
This particular farm, as best we can tell, belonged to the either the Hall or Weston Family [circa 1855] and eventually at some point transferred to the Johnson Family hence the name of Johnson Road. The farm was 600+ acres in size at some point in time and hosted a large Carriage House and Inn as it sat on one of the main roads stretching between Springfield and Chester. With the advent of the automobile [we can only surmise] and new roads it was slowly displaced as a travel route. The town of Springfield still classifies the original length of Johnson Road as a class four road and open to the public for travel, you can still see it on some internet mapping applications, although most would find that a good set of hiking boots and a hatchet might be required equipment if one wanted to make the trip today.
Over the years the farm slowly shrank, parcels being sold off by the Johnson Family to make what is today many of the homes which line Pleasant Valley Road and some of it's tributaries, eventually trimming down to the approximately 160 acres it is today, including "old baldy" which is the name many of the locals used to call the hump shaped peak on it's northern side. We have at least one photograph which looks to be from the early 1970's where you can see the hill in the background and the reasoning behind the nickname. Fortunately today it has finally grown sufficient cover "up top" to put the name in it's past.
From the Johnson Family it was passed on a few times with the farmhouse you see today being built in 1932. In the 1980's and 90's it was owned by the Hedde's who expanded the original house significantly, adding on the new kitchen/family room area to the west and enclosing the porch to the east to host a new office area below and powder room and closet for the Master bedroom upstairs. Eventually the property passed along to Ron Dufresne and Family in the early 2000's, who in turn passed the property along to us in 2018. Among the various projects taken on by Ron, and clearly his most treasured, was the building of the properties Sugar House. A longtime hobbyist, Ron took the plunge in 2008 in designing and building with the help of a few locals this beautiful little structure. After a season of sugaring [making Maple Syrup] one can appreciate all the thought and love that went into it's design and construction. Just a few years later, Ron expanded the sugaring operations buy running sap lines on both the northern and southern areas of the property, replacing 90% of the sap bucket collection, saving them strictly for the driveway [where we think they look perfect!]
Now it's our turn to take the helm as stewards of this magnificent property, and it is our sincere hope that we can do so with as much love and pride as those that came before us.
From Fowl to Fun...
At Landia Hill Farm, we do a little bit of everything!
We free range our chickens and have a steady supply of farm fresh eggs, the goats help maintain the property grasses and the rest of the animals (cats and dogs) help maintain order.
When we're not making Maple Syrup in the Spring, time away from daily chores is dedicated to making "macro" sized Macrame art pieces, custom jewelry and other artistic endeavors.
Future plans include expanding the existing garden and venturing into "forest gardening' with project that will include Japanese style Shiitake mushroom growing, Lions Mane, Oyster and other varieties.
Also on the "to do" list is starting a Lavender crop and continuing to reclaim the western pastures back into productivity.