Lucie Lehmann, Contributor
A temporary farmers market featuring some of the current and future on-site businesses is the next major step in the Nordic Farms 3.0 redevelopment effort. According to site director Robin Jeffers, the market will open and run for seven weeks beginning August 26 and ending October 7, with hours from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday evenings. Dubbed “Nordic Nite Out,” it’s one of the first tangible manifestations of Gardener’s Supply founder and entrepreneur Will Raap’s multi-faceted plan to transform the defunct dairy operation into a diversified regional agricultural hub.
Jeffers described the market as a “toe in the water” that will showcase products with a connection to Nordic Farms. Among the vendors will be Sweet Sound’s head-on aquaculture shrimp, which are grown in tanks in one of the farm’s converted barns; field-grown flowers by Clayton Floral; as well as seasonal produce from Nordic Fresh Organic Produce; and baked goods from Slowfire Bakery in Jeffersonville, which uses Nitty Gritty flours, one of Nordic’s future tenants. Nitty Gritty flours and baking mixes will also be for sale, along with garlic from future tenant Vermont Farms and Gardens, which plans to create an edible plants nursery at Nordic beginning next year.
Thirsty shoppers will be able to choose among several types of alcoholic beverages, including wild ales from House of Fermentology/Foam Brewers that are made with honey from Nordic’s bees and barley malted by the Vermont Malthouse, another of the farm’s early tenants. Shoreham-based WhistlePig Whiskey, which also malts their grains at Nordic, will sell their award-winning spirits at several of the markets.
Non-alcoholic, fruit-infused drinks will be represented by Hinesburg-based Shrubbly, which will not only begin steeping batches of the fruit-infused vinegar syrups on the farm, but will also be among Nordic’s next tenants. Matt Sayre, Shrubbly’s owner, plans to start growing Aronia berries, a key ingredient in the bubbly, prebiotic drinks, on site next spring.
“We’re really setting the stage for what we’re going to launch next year,” Jeffers explained about the market, outlining their vision of offering a wide array of unique products that “are actually grown here, made here or raised here.”
A food truck serving Open Hearth pizza and Farmer’s Market pizza will alternate weeks, while savory treats from Pie Empire will be featured at some, but not all, of the markets on a rotating basis, as well. The Charlotte Selectboard signed off on the temporary food truck at their August 9 meeting.
Asked about the possible effects of a new market on existing Charlotte farm stands like Sweet Roots and Head Over Fields, Jeffers was upbeat. “In order to be sustainable, every farmer does something unique to develop a niche. It could be that some of everybody’s niche things could be in our market. We’re about collaboration and supporting not only this farm, but all farms.” Jeffers noted that they don’t want to compete with other local growers. “If we grow berries here, it’ll be Aronia berries for Shrubbly.”
The sale of the overall property is still pending, but plans are on track for a late September or early October closing, according to Jeffers. In the meantime, each week brings more activity to the farm. The first batches of this year’s barley were malted two weeks ago, with a second one soon after, and orders for the malt have been strong, including orders from regional breweries like Foam.
Jeffers said they are in the middle of planning for the fall planting of cover crops and the apportionment among businesses of the spring cropping fields. The Kenyon family of Charlotte, owners of Aurora Farms and Nitty Gritty Grain Company of Vermont, are leading the three-year process of turning the property’s soil into certified organic land.
Many of the plans—including demonstration gardens, a bakery and a culinary medicine initiative—will take months, if not years to come to fruition. Nonetheless, Jeffers is pleased to see the inaugural market ready to launch. “You’ll be able to get a malted beverage, a bite to eat and some fresh produce and bread. Kind of simple, but nice.”