Spring Renewal and Our Farm Community

Spring Renewal and Our Farm Community

by Corie Pierce

Every spring is a time for new beginnings, renewal, birth.  Excitement fills the air and signs of spring are everywhere, including in our spirits. There is a fresh new bounce in all of our steps.  There is a feeling that “anything is possible!”, after a winter that we all felt, on some level, to have survived. Now the things that we had to work for each day get a bit easier!  (Think getting your family out the door just to go for a walk – snowpants, boots, mittens, scarf or no scarf, hat, layers….or…instead of hauling a 750lbs round bale of hay to the cows and trudging through snow and ice to do so, we just open a gate and let them into their new, lush pasture, with no worry of their waterer freezing over night!).  Suddenly, those first few days in spring that clear 50 degrees, everything feels EASY!  Throw on a sweater and you are on your way!

OK – yes, I know we just had one of our biggest snow storms last week, but, Spring is upon us, we know it.

I am always amazed by the pseudo-amnesia that comes with the feeling in spring that anything is possible. Funny, that we can’t quite remember just how hard the height of the growing season is -- the hours worked, the physical challenges, we just do it, and in March we seem thrilled at the possibility of taking it all on again!  So it goes, and especially for a farmer, it seems that with each season there are the joys and the parts of it that we love and crave, and there are the real challenges that we dive right in to, with naïve positivity and fortitude. 

It seems like in spring, or on the cusp of spring, I tend to reflect on this more and more with each passing year.  I think about why I do what I do, why I farm, why I feel so strongly about trying to make this business thrive.  The sense of birth, beginning again, and renewal is, perhaps, the time to think that way, to consider what we do and why.  And this year, more than ever, we are thinking about this as a team here at Bread & Butter Farm. 

Over the past three years our team went through big transitions – we had to reinvent ourselves and what we are doing on this beautiful 143 acres of land that we have been entrusted to steward.  It was about three years ago that we renewed the commitment of farming to simultaneously build community and to regenerate the land where we work – and do it in a collaborative way.   

In the most beautiful and organic way, a team has just emerged.  And, the core principles that guide this team has also emerged, like the tender shoots of grass in May that push out of the clay soil to start anew again. 

We have an incredible team.  We have a group of people here who all have found farming as a “career” not because it was part of their family tradition, but often in defiance of what others thought was a ‘good choice’.  This team has emerged to live this lifestyle and this mission, not because it is a practical or sensible career move, but because it’s really the only option. And luckily, it’s one that is truly the best option for them, for us, for our community.  Although our backgrounds vary greatly – how we were raised, what we were exposed to growing up, how we ate as children, our educational levels – we have all come to find that food is truly the deepest human connector. We see that humans are at a reckoning point with how food is raised, gathered, grown for human consumption, and if we don’t take a hard look at how we steward the land that sustains ALL life on Earth, we will have big challenges to face.  

Whew, that is heavy, but, it also feels very true.  And so, this team that makes up Bread and Butter Farm is on a mission.  We are united by sharing a sense of purpose in our lives.  We believe that there is a different way to “farm”, or really to care for land. A way where we can integrate back into a more natural, ecological system, one where the lines between plants, animals and human animals is more blurred, one where the wilderness and the farm are more blurred. One where we are just one partner in a whole system, not the dominating force OVER a system. 

This is what defines us, what motivates us, what drives us each spring when the birds and the bees buzz yet again and we feel young and invigorated, like anything is possible. We see so clearly that humans and animals and forests can all flow and integrate and thrive together.

We try to balance running a business and working collaboratively together within the construct of our modern day society to try and operate in a way that is antiquated and “old fashioned”. In a time when iPhones (we use them too!) and social media rule; where technology seems to be king, we are also experiencing a movement toward more genuine connection. The older ways of doing things are returning.  How do we operate an old-fashioned, modern farm business in the age of Instagram? It feels crazy, but we will try!

A huge part of our mission to steward land and animals and plants in a holistic way involves the kiddos.  Many of you know that our childrens’ programming has grown in the last few years. This has always been a HUGE guiding force in our mission, originating before Bread & Butter Farm existed.  I have always believed that in order to actually create real change in our food system and in our relationship to the Earth, we must engage our kiddos right from the start. 

We have expanded Camp Bread & Butter, and in the fall of 2017 we launched our Village School.  Of course, Mister Chris and his Music for Sprouts program has stayed steady and strong, serving as our foundation for building community and safety with our littlest ones, before they are big enough to come to camp.  With our ongoing partnerships with The Schoolhouse Learning Center and UVM, we also have been able to strengthen and deepen our connection to elementary, middle school, and college age students.  It is exciting!

So, together, we are defining how to operate this education - farm business in a modern era.  This also means legal structures and bank accounts and land ownership.  This winter we have been spending time researching how to do things differently, that is actually sustainable in the business sense (which is a perennial challenge for farms). This means that as an employer, we need to incentivize longevity, and support a community -- not just an individual or one family, but many households.  We are making progress.

But now, SPRING!  The renewal is coming, we feel it knocking on the door, we feel the antsi-ness of life bubbling and bursting, ready to pop, which means so will we! And then we will need to balance the work of working together with the work of land, plant and animal stewardship.  Until the leaves fall again and give us a minute to breathe again…..

Stay tuned for more. And thank you for being a part of our farm!  We are here because of you, because of the support you give us, because you are believing in what we are doing. Thank you!




Healthy, Local Fat: Rendering Pork Fat into Lard

Healthy Fats,
Local Fats

The Benefits of Leaf Lard & Rendering Pork Fat

by Mariah Notini


It’s the beginning of March, and just when Vermont gives you a taste of spring, she hits you with another snow storm… I’ve been dreaming of the coming months, full of fresh vegetables and long days full of sun. It’s in these moments that I get my inspiration for a project in the kitchen. Kitchen projects are always what I fall back on when I feel myself falling into a slump of winter blues -- they give me an excuse to spend the afternoon in my pajamas, switching between podcasts, making playlists, and bingeing Gilmore Girls.
Rendering pork (back) fat is the perfect project for these last days of laziness because, although the process takes several hours, all you have to do is stir the spoon a few times every hour. Minimal input for a big reward!

Making lard can seem intimidating at first, however I assure you that once you do it the first time, you will find it well worth pushing your comfort zone. All you need is a sharp butcher knife, a cutting board, and a heavy bottomed stockpot.

The most important part of making lard is that you obtain high quality pork fat where the pigs have been raised on pasture for most of their lives. Lucky for you, here at Bread and Butter our pigs are raised just that way. The pork in our freezers came from animals who ate fresh grass, rooted in the dirt, munched tree nuts, gorged on thousands of pounds of organic apples, and were fed organic, non-GMO, soy-free Vermont grains (talk about high quality!)

 You might be thinking this is a lot to do just for some lard that you don’t know how to use… but ah-ha! To the contrary…you should know that there are many benefits to rendering pork fat and cooking with lard that go beyond an excuse to spend the day in your pajamas…
Things to know about lard:

  • Lard has higher percentage of saturated fats compared to mono- and polyunsaturated fats. The higher the quality of the lard you use, the fewer polyunsaturated fats will be in the final product (this is good!).  This matters not only for the essential fats you are getting when you consume the lard, but also because the percentage of saturated fat protects the more vulnerable mono/polyunsaturated fats from oxidizing with heat (which happens often with olive oil and butter). Oxidation of fats causes free radicals, which in turn can cause cell damage in our bodies.
  • Lard is amazing for cooking, sautéing, and deep-frying because of its high temperature stability. It also has a very neutral flavor and gives a wonderful brown crust to vegetables and meats.
  • Did I mention it’s economical?! The prices of pork fat have stayed low ($2-5 dollars/ lb) over the years compared to other high quality cooking fats. You can spend $6.00 on 2 lbs of pork fat from the farm store and yield an entire quart of lard!  
  • Because our pigs spend so much of their lives on pasture with little stress, eating wild weeds and rooting through the ground, our lard has a high Vitamin D content. Typically, pastured pork contains 1,000 IU’s of vitamin D per tablespoon.
  • Pork lard is a LOCAL source of high quality fat, unlike coconut or olive oil that is shipped across seas…. I’m looking at you, localvores!
  • Lard is wonderful to make flaky pie crusts and biscuits, as well as a good substitute for higher quality cookies and other treats where you substitute the lard for butter or hydrogenated oils.

 Now that I’ve undoubtedly convinced you that rendering lard is worth your time, here is how you do it:

How to Render Fat From our Woodland Pork:

Step 1. Cut lard in ½ inch cubes, making sure to discard any bloody pieces.

Step 2. Once all of the lard is cubed, pour a ½ cup water over the lard. (I did a ½ cup for 2 lbs fat… you can adjust the amount of water based on amount of fat.) Put the pot over medium-low heat and allow water to boil off slowly, for about 45 minutes to an hour.

Lard 2.png

Step 3.  Stir occasionally on medium-low heat until brown crisp float to the top. When you see this, you’re almost done! Eventually, the crisps will sink to the bottom and at this point you can take the pot off of the heat. This whole process can take 3-4 hours on the stove top. Remember… low and slow!

Step 4. Let cool until able to handle and then strain out fat pieces through a cheesecloth or mesh strainer into a glass jar. The fat can be stored anywhere under 100F for at least 6 months.

Step 5. Salt and eat the leftovers or use in place of breadcrumbs on a gratin!

There you have it folks! Make you own local & nutrient dense cooking fat to make every vegetable sauté and pie crust that much tastier.

So go ahead, and choose that show you have been meaning to catch up on or make some tea and snuggle up with a good novel, and let the rendering begin!

Here is a simple recipe from bon appetit for oatmeal raisin lard cookies!

May you be healthy, wealthy, and full of fat this spring!
Xo, Mariah

March 9, 2018


Happy Powder Day!

What a time warp of a winter we're having. Although, for those who remember, one of our biggest snow storms last year was at almost the exact same time. Thank you, snow goddesses.

While the greenhouses shed their fresh cathedral of snow, we're happily harvesting spinach inside their warm walls. Spring seeding continues, and we admire the impressive progress that Alex and his dad made on our new, indoor wash-pack room this week. It's always fun to watch drawings extrude into the third dimension; what was just a sketch last week now has walls.

Meanwhile, Bekah, Alex, and Corie are also on a charge to finish turning over the rest of the greenhouse beds in time for April transplanting. They hope to get as much done as possible before our most energetic (loving, smiling, quirky - I'm talking about Bekah, in case that wasn't clear) team member departs for her long (6 month) walk along on the Pacific Crest Trail. Given that the Bekah to Normal Human energy ratio is something like 1:10, we may have some transplanting parties on the horizon. Keep an eye out if your finger nails are feeling a bit too clean from a winter out of the dirt.

In the farm store this week we have some extra kale and braising mix from Jericho Settler's Farm on sale for $5/bag. We're also excited to start to stock our pork fat, also on sale, which is easily rendered into nutrient dense lard -- an excellent source of Vermont made fat.  Learn more about it from Mariah in her story below. There is only one more week until our next yoga & brunch gathering, so mark your calendar for March 18th and reserve your spot now. And, finally, Spring CSA sign-up continues, and we're hoping to close registration by March 26th! (Spoiler: keep eyes on the horizon for our summer CSA, we are dreaming up some very exciting new ideas!)

All the Love - Go play in the Snow,

Lauren & The Bread and Butter Farm Team

Blank Page Cafe - Origins and Evolution

Blank Page Cafe:
Origins & Evolution

It’s Friday morning in the summer of 2015 and I’ve just had my first few sips of butter coffee as I make my way to work at the Last Resort Farm in Monkton, VT.  As I head south, the horizon appears and I am overtaken by a sweeping moment of clarity. I am acutely aware of my surroundings and my place within them. The sense of understanding is transcendent, and I am amazed, humbled, and elevated by it. In this moment, I feel enveloped in a transformative energy: my goals seem attainable and worthy of tireless pursuit. As I pull into the farm, it is with the comforting certainty that I am heading in the right direction in every sense of the word. My day begins.

Fast forward 3 years and Blank Page Café is in its second full year in business operating in the farm store at Bread and Butter Farm.  In addition to many challenges (and many more butter coffees!) from that Friday morning in 2015 until now, there have been countless moments of triumph in the face of hardship, gratitude in the presence of support, and evolution in the face of changing conditions.  We’re working on so many enriching projects at Bread and Butter farm that have the potential to help Blank Page transform into a sit-down café whose menu incorporates as much of the nourishing and delicious food being grown and raised on the farm as possible.

We have a way to go to get from this point to sit-down café but we’re taking small, intentional steps towards realizing this goal! The most exciting development for me has been the introduction and continued ongoing focus on more savory gluten and grain free baking and food options.  We’re now offering frittatas on Thursdays, savory scones and much more! Keep a look out for new offerings in the coming months! Follow us on Instagram @blankpagecafe to get in the know about what’s to come!



March 2, 2018

Earlier this week we heartily welcomed the shining sun as we watched the first few geese fly overhead. Later, over steak, some of us pondered who brought the most reliable sign of season change. Would we base our bets about the date of our cattle's return to pasture on the calendar? Or, perhaps there is some magical number of days we can count from the first visible new growth of grass or the first trickle of geese in the sky.

The date of sping grazing can be difficult to predict with any amount of certainty, but other cycles are surprisingly clock-like. As of today, all signs show that our matriarchal pig, Gertie, is likely pregnant. You might remember that we were concerned that this might not happen in time for spring farrowing. If all is well, her piglets will spend approximately 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days growing inside of her, and will arrive just in time. 

This week Bekah, Corie and Alex got serious about spring seedlings and made a trip to Unity Farm to start our hot and sweet peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, scallions, herbs and greens in their heated greenhouse. We also gathered for our monthly stakeholder meeting, where we discussed some of our near and further afield building projects. Alex presented his design for our new 3-season wash-pack room, and others weighed in on what might become of our staff outdoor kitchen. Mike, who many of you know from your morning Butter Coffee habit, presented some of his research on a lynch-pin infrastructure expansion project. This longer term project will enable many more dreams that we have on the farm, one of which is the evolution of Blank Page Cafe into a more full-service restaurant (read a little bit about the cafe in Mike's essay below!). For now, he's working on expanding his menu with some incredible savory bites. 

We are in the middle of registration for our Spring CSA shares and encourage you to reserve your spot now. Likewise, our next yoga & brunch event is coming up in just a few short weeks! Come move your body and fill your belly with food and friends. And finally, we just re-stocked short ribs in the farm store, so make sure to come try them while they are still on sale! You can find a basic recipe for them here. 

Education - A long View


I love to teach every single age. I love to be taught by every single age. I've learned over the past few years how much one becomes the learner when stepping into the mentorship role, and how much I LOVE to be in a real life, nature-based educational atmosphere with people of ALL ages and ALL walks of life. I think I can safely say, everyone at Bread & Butter Farm shares a similar sentiment. 

Upon first arriving to Bread & Butter Farm, my dream was to work with teenagers. Corie aptly reminded me that the best way to find those teenagers, is to develop trust and friendships with kids. And when those kids grow up, there you have the teenagers you've been waiting for. Well, here we are. We have those incredible teenagers...perhaps you, the reader are one of them. And additionally, we have the new beautiful generation of kids coming up right behind them. And it's a cycle we at the farm are humbled and crazy enthusiastic to be swirling within.

These kids and teens light up our life. I love their quirky ways, their questions, their hesitations, and their realness. Teenagehood was a time during which I truly struggled and yet, my struggle has become one of my greatest sources of light. I hope to be there to lift up, light up, and support the teenagers in our community to fly and find their own powers and light. I am a firm believer in giving our children and teens places to be seen, heard, and places to take on real life responsibility, acting as leaders to one another and learning how to become the best versions of themselves that they can imagine. I strive to be there to step in and and hold up some of the most capable demographic in our community, to support them in finding their strength and voice, and to guide them to love and maintain the spark they were born with. 

 Perhaps all of this can help to pave the way for more learning from and with ALL ages and walks of life here at Bread & Butter Farm. 

With love,


a Poem by Bekah Gordon

How has this dry word come to symbolize something so whole, so out of this world?
Let's redefine learning. Jumble up the paradigm.
Call it Edjumakayshin!
Learning here at Bread & Butter Farm is the creation no, the manifestation of a whole startling planet of things that I can only begin to name:
Unconditional trust, yes this is one of them. 
A safe space to fly, yes this too.
Building friendships, and vulnerable hearts.
It is pushing buttons, boundaries, paradigms.
It is a stew of elderly reminiscing, catching whiffs of a time past and
the young, sparkling with wonder and racing thoughts.
The teenagers testing the waters and the middle aged turning to new chapters.
It is a quilt of beings which unites families that surpass genetics and blood lines,
religions, affiliations, gender, race, and preference.
It forges ties through soil, toil, weather, and shared experience.
From baby to elder, the moments of spark and learning never stop.
Day in and day out, every interaction plays a role.
The senses are open to each other and to the landscape.
Questions opening doorways to more questions.
Coyote tracks and square dancing,
Baking and seeding,
Chewing, carving, digging, and building,
harvesting, meetings, good mornings and sunsets,
calm, fast, sunshine, and rain.
Sometimes planned, mostly not.
Edjumakayshin. That sounds more like it.  

Learn more about all of our education programs here. 

February 23, 2018

Happy Friday!

The pre-emptive glimpse of spring this week meant a breadth of fresh air for our winter greens as we raised the sides of our hoop houses for the first time this year (though, we don't expect this to become routine quite yet). In support of our effort to fully close our cattle heard, we welcomed 7 beautiful animals from a nearby farm to our land. And, our weekly staff meeting was filled with ideas and dreams of what our CSA might become in the coming months and years (keep your eyes and ears open for developments!). 

Our camp directors Bekah and Ethan have poured themselves into further honing the Leader in Training (LIT) program for this year's summer camp season. This program fits within our mission to create meaningful roles and learning opportunities for people of every age and stage here on the farm. Bekah has been particularly inspired to develop our work with teenagers, and she shared a bit from her personal manifesto on education and mentorship in her letter below, and in her poemEdjumakayshin. 

Though we're brief on farm news this week, we're full in ways to engage right now; learn more about our Spring CSA sign-upLeader in Training Summer Camp Applications, and our on-farm women's Yoga & Brunch !

Lauren & The Bread & Butter Farm Team

It's Good to Be Back

It's Good to Be Back

by Alex Gemme

TiKahh..TiKahh..TiKahh..TiKahh...  The sound of sparks echos around the circle.  Snow is just beginning to fall outside of the shelter, and there is anticipation in the air.  The spark catches and, breath by breath, it is brought to life as singing fills the air.  Growing until the entire fire structure is engulfed.  Smiles go around the circle and we settle in to warm our toes as a story is told.


After we finish our snacks, we prepare ourselves for an epic game of Turkey and Coyote.  A simple game, but with clear relevance to our ecosystem.  Its our first day back in over a month and there is a lot of energy around base camp.  The weather couldn’t be better, with calm winds and snow expected for most of the day.  Already our tracks are filling in and visibility becoming blurred.  Few animals are out and about today, and the only sound that breaks the silence is the occasional call of the raven, dampened by the fresh snow.


A lot has changed in the past six weeks, since the last time we were all together.  Base camp has had a roof constructed and firewood is stacked in preparation for the cold months ahead.  Two more people have also just joined our community and folks couldn’t be more eager to show them around.   

Between the ages of 7 and 28, we now make up a group of eight enthusiastic, curious, thoughtful and creative kids.  Together we observe and question, follow tracks and work together, explore new places and learn new skills.

We head out from our shelter, running whopping and sliding through the freshly fallen snow.  With no thought of the past and little thought to the future, we chase the slowly fading tracks of the wild turkeys down the hill, in hopes of catching even a glimpse of these majestic birds.

For the next 4 months, we will be coming together weekly, cooking our lunch over the fire and getting to know our landscape in a deeper and more intimate way.  I reflect as I sit back in my post-lunch sit spot.  The snow is falling harder and the smell of woodsmoke drifts through the air.

I take a deep breath in.  

Its good to be back.


This story was written by Village School mentor and farmer, Alex Gemme. Photos were captured by both Alex and Bekah Gordon, and audio was recorded by resident environmental artist, Nancy Winship Milliken. 

February 16

If 35 deg. Farenheight already feels balmy in the mid-Vermont winter, then try spending a couple of minutes in our -40 degree storage freezer. Walking outside feels equivalent to teleporting to Hawaii. Corie, Brandon and I finally tackled the looming meat inventory project, which has been a big to-do on our collective plate (inventory & beach teleportation, equally). It helps us plan out the rest of our year in terms of meat sales, and guides how we approach expanding our animal herds. It was fun and frantic to sort through all of the beautiful pieces: bacon, spare ribs, chuck roasts and sirloin steaks, tenderloins and bones. Inspiration for so many cooking projects swirl somewhere between my taste buds and imagination (recipes to come!). 

This week, Corie also gave our farm store freezer a make-over and created an informational cut sheet - two simple elements that have disproportionately elevated the meat-perusing experience. Yes: It has never been easier to find & bring home the bacon. 

Considerations for bacon, inventorying and long term herd planning are also culminating right now in our animal barn. We time our herds' birthing periods with specific seasonal landmarks so that our mamas and babies have access to the right nutrition and environmental conditions to thrive. We plan for farrowing (the birth of the piglets) for May, but recently learned that our pig's have other plans. Our two new-mamas-to-be, Georgette and Freya (namesake: lover in the night - this is clearly our fault) became pregnant earlier than we had hoped and planned for. The signs of their pregnancies are starting to become more obvious, and we believe that they may farrow in the next month. This means piglets in winter, before mud season, and before Gertie, our Sow gives birth, creating significant management challenges for us. Gertie and Elmer (the boar) are having pregnancy troubles of their own, and this cycle is Gertie's last chance to become pregnant in time for spring farrowing. So, join us in sending fertile thoughts and support to her!! 

Outside of animal world, it feels like every day there is more and more happening to engage kiddos in our farm and landscape. The first week of Village School was last week, and this semester welcomed some new faces, young and old(er). Long time farm friend Braden has just joined Bekah and Alex as a co-mentor, and the tribe grows. Alex shared a vivid window into what life is like in a day of Village School in his story "It's Good To Be Back", below. 

We are also excited to collaborate with another good friend of the farm, local herbalist and educator, Kenzie McDonald, who will lead kid's herbalism classes here this winter. Kenzie is also the inspiration behind our herbal themed camp week this summer, and we feel incredibly grateful for her knowledge, energy, and skill working with students of all ages. 

And lastly, movement continues bit by bit in the greenhouses. This longer bout of warm weather means that we can begin watering, and the first five beds were broadcast seeded with salad mix and cilantro seed on Monday. Normally, we plant in rows, but we love to experiment, observe and adapt - so we'll keep you informed as to how this experiment goes. 

We are lucky to have the ability to try new cultivation methods and develop our practices - and much of this freedom is created by selling our food through the CSA model. We truly appreciate the commitment of our CSA members, whose support creates so much stability and opportunity for us as a business. Registration for our Spring CSA Shares began this week, and we hope you join us! If so, you'll be the first to try our broadcasted Cilantro. 

February 9

So much bright and light this week. The lingering sunlight has finally reclaimed the afternoon.

Even though the ground is still frozen, now insulated with an entirely fresh blanket of snow, we have felt a perceptible jump in day length signaling the assured approach of spring. We are nearly midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox, and can sense a shift in our hoop houses. During the winter, plant growth slows to all but a frozen halt, and we must harvest sparingly to assure that we leave enough leaves to do the photosynthetic work for each plant. We are pleased to announce that their growth is, once again, perceptible.

The stretching day length is also our cue to slowly begin movement towards spring plantings. We’ve begun to turn over the garden beds in hoop house 2, and have seeded the very first few trays of what will be our earliest kale transplants. This, while Alex still races to finish the crop plan before the real plants get ahead of him.

And, inspired by the transition from the slow, darkness of winter, back towards movement and light, Corie has co-organized a women’s rejuvenation retreat series that will take place on the farm in our classroom space. We invite you (sorry men, ladies only) to gather with us, one morning a month to share in movement, meditation and a meal. The first event is this Sunday, and we hope to see you there! 

- Lauren & the Bread & Butter Team

The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.

- Wendell Berry