Gail Callahan, Contributor
Will Raap’s purchase of Charlotte’s Nordic Farm is about to become a reality, and the local entrepreneur is eager to take the reins.
“I bought it because I had nothing better to do with my time,” Raap said.
Raap, who lives in Shelburne, has a longtime interest in local agriculture and restoration projects. In 1983, he founded Gardener’s Supply Company in Burlington. Three years later, Raap spearheaded the Intervale Center, a clean-up effort to restore the Intervale—700 acres of bottomland in Burlington—to its agricultural roots.
Raap said he anticipates the sale of the Nordic Farms property, which was listed at $4.4 million, will be finalized shortly.
“My guess is that that will happen in the next two to three weeks,” Rapp said.
Andrew Peterson, who co-owns the farm with Jay Canning, confirmed the impending sale.
“We’re hoping it will be done soon, but I haven’t been given a timeline” he said.
Peterson said Yankee Farm Credit, his financial institution, told him the property had to be sold.
“I had no interest in selling,” Peterson said. “I’m only speaking for myself and for my family, and I can’t answer for Jay. This has been a really difficult process for me.”
Peterson expanded on his feelings about the sale.
“This was my life’s work, my ideas, my vision and I’m losing all of it, right on the brink of a new level of success,” he said. “The process has shown me how amazing my family is; reaffirming something I already knew. It has also shown me who my actual friends are, so there is something of value I take away from this.”
As Raap waits for the sale to be finalized, title and soil contamination searches are taking place on the U.S. 7 property. BHB Engineering is coordinating the site plan, Raap said, and he hopes to submit the document to Charlotte town officials by early fall. A review by Act 250, the state’s land-use law, is not necessary, Raap said.
“We may have a meeting next week with engineers to document what the site plans will look like,” he said.
Raap said he plans to turn the farmland, most of which he said is grain, into an agricultural center featuring Vermont grains, botanicals, drinks and a “few acres of hemp.”
The farm went into bankruptcy four years ago. At the time it was owned by Michael LaClair. Peterson purchased Nordic Farms from Clark Hinsdale in late October 2018 for $2.4 million.