Nature’s bounty, with a Vermont twist

Armstrong Farm, just outside of Bennington, VT
Armstrong Farm

– August 31, 2023

Got Garlic?

The weather forecast is ideal for one of Vermont’s most popular outdoor events, when downtown Bennington once again becomes Garlic Town USA on Saturday, Sept. 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Those who remember “GarlicFest” when it was held outside of town will find the same mix of garlic sellers, musical acts, food trucks, vendors (120 of them), kids’ activities, and beer tents, along with new wrinkles such as a garlic trivia contest and a garlic ice cream demo. Parking is free and organized. It’s lots of fun!

bennington vermont event garlic festival crowds
Crowds of people celebrating all things garlic

As you may have heard, many valley towns in Vermont experienced severe flooding when the rains came in July. The rivers in Bennington ran high but did not overflow their banks, and in fact, the generous rainfall gave a boost to local crops and pastures. You can now reap the rewards of the season at the region’s many farm stands. Here are a few of them.

Bennington Community Market

Cooler case at Bennington Community Market
Bennington Community Market

The Bennington Farmers Market is not running this year, but local farms supply produce and more to the recently opened Bennington Community Market a short walk from the town center at 239 Main Street. They have a kitchen for in-house eating and fresh sandwiches to take out, too.

Benmont Avenue Produce, Bennington: Popular Fresh Produce

Benmont Avenue Produce with colorful gourds out front
Benmont Avenue Produce

You don’t have to leave town to stock up on fresh produce, corn, and fruit from local farms. Benmont Avenue Produce is a seasonal stand, open through mid-October. They are known for their sweet corn, grown in nearby Greenwich, New York, but you should also stop in for fresh fruit, jams and jellies, hot sauce, and even some succulents for that empty windowsill.

Benmont Avenue Produce is open daily from 11 am to 6 pm. Visit them at 160 Benmont Avenue in Bennington.

Clear Brook Farm, Shaftsbury: Organic Veggies and More

Melons at Clear Brook Farm
Fresh melons at Clear Brook Farm in Shaftsbury

Clear Brook Farm has been growing fruit and vegetables organically in Shaftsbury for 29 years, and it’s also your one-stop shop for picnic supplies, locally raised meats, local cheeses, and bedding plants.

It’s not so much a farm stand as a farm emporium. It’s open through October, and if you too are local, you can sign up for their winter CSA so the season never ends.

Visit Clear Brook Farm at 47 Hidden Valley Road, just off Route 7A nine miles north of Bennington, right across from another Shaftsbury landmark, the Chocolate Shop, famous for its homemade ice cream.

Armstrong Farm, Pownal: Maple Syrup, Pumpkins, and Vegetables

Pumpkins in front of Armstrong Farm
Armstrong Farm

The iconic pumpkins and gourds that grace the lawn at Armstrong Farm a few miles south of downtown Bennington beckon to locals and tourists alike driving along Route 7. The cheerful sight is impossible to resist, and if you find yourself pulling over to explore, you’ll likely head home with a bundle of farm-fresh goodies and a few pints of maple syrup for Sunday’s pancake breakfast.

Keith Armstrong established his family maple sugaring business in 1975 and currently taps over 3,000 trees in the hillside sugarbush behind his house. See the blog post for March on this site to learn more about his operation. Visit Armstrong Farm at 614 Route US 7-S in Pownal.

The Apple Barn and Country Bake Shop

Pumpkins at the Apple Barn
The Apple Barn

Many Vermont orchards were hard hit by a sharp May frost, but the north-facing slopes of Bennington’s Southern Vermont Orchards largely escaped damage.

You can sample this year’s crop at the Apple Barn at 604 Route 7-S a few miles south of Bennington, now under new management and with even more in the way of pies, pumpkins, cider donuts, and other Vermont treats. The shop opens at 8:30 in the morning daily, closing at 4:00 pm Sunday through Thursday and at 6:30 pm Friday and Saturday.

The Goat Project, Bennington: Got Goat Milk? Got Goat Milk Soap?

A small farm stand at the Goat Project
The Goat Project

Located in a little valley a few miles west of Bennington, the tiny farm stand at The Goat Project features delightful goat’s milk soap in various scents, lovingly crafted from the rich milk of a herd of Nubians. They also offer fresh goat milk (reserve ahead) and duck eggs.

The farm stand is open Saturday, Sunday, and Monday from 10 am to 6 pm. Visit them at 1107 Pleasant Valley Road in Bennington.

The Sound of Music

Music is food too – for the soul, of course. The courtyard of the Bennington Museum has it on September 1, when the Bale Kicker duo plays, and on September 8, when SIRSY (“the little band with the big sound”) puts on the show.

Acclaimed stiltwalker Troy Wunderle will also be on hand to entertain your children on the 8th. Food will be available to purchase, but the concerts and activities are free.

Pownal resident Phil Holland writes a monthly post for Vermont Begins here.