In just a couple short weeks, with my partner Amy, I move to my childhood home in Vermont. We'll land on the west side of the state in a town called New Haven. I imagine that for the next year or more I will keep up my work as a restaurant cook and in the time left over, continue/expand V Smiley Preserves. Amy and I, with my mother's help, will throw ourselves into all the work to be done on the very grown in farmland, making plans, setting systems for this larger project of transforming the family farm into an agri-cultural hub in the New Haven River Valley.
I was born in the downstairs living room of the farm house that sits on a 150-acre farm my parents purchased in the 1970s. They raised Angus beef, tended a commercial vegetable garden and tried their hand at keeping an orchard. My father passed away 2.5 years ago so it's just my mom on the land now. Over the years my father and mother maintained a burly home garden that in size never shed its market garden roots. Last year my mother added more currant, elderberry, gooseberry bushes. And some fruit remains (rhubarb patches and apple trees) from my parent's original work on the land over 30 years ago.
Above you see the largest piece of open land on the farm. It's a 30 acre hayfield. Last year it was planted with non GMO soybeans and that crop was harvested by a local farmer. This year it will be re-planted with alfalfa. Two significant pieces of Nellis soil lie amongst the mostly clay soiled hayfield. My parents gardened both these well-draining Nellis pieces and the chances are good that Amy and I will reopen these fertile patches back up as we slowly, slowly expand what we grow on the farm.
Here's Mom! Susan Smiley. You can't see them, but off to the side is a thicket of purple raspberries and a stretch of land we have in mind for a big herb garden to produce aromatics for the fruit preserves. My mother has worked this land for decades. She knows all the spots. My mother has incredible, curious, warm energy. She is the reason for moving to Vermont. I want to know her better. I want to work with her, I want to carry on the work she started with my father and bask in her deep knowledge of not just her land, but the experience she has built from working professionally in food and agriculture. She is the heart of this next project.