Pumpkins galore in the Intervale

Everyone knows what a pumpkin is, but what is the Intervale?

Dave Mitchell with customer

Dave Mitchell with customer

The Intervale is 350 acres of rich reclaimed bottom land straddling the Winooski River in Burlington, Vermont.

This fertile plain was created by nature, with additions by man. The waters of the Winooski River begin high in the Green Mountains, wend their way down through villages and farmland. Before emptying into Lake Champlain, they give up the gained nutrients to this delta.

Under the aegis of the Intervale Center it has become an example for other communities across the nation.Visitors to New England, especially those interested in “going green” and sustainable agriculture, should make a visit to this gardening innovation center a priority.

The Intervale Center’s Mission

Their “What we do” statement sums it up:
“With support from grants and individual donors and revenues from our enterprises, we deliver on the following goals: to grow viable farms; preserve productive agricultural land; increase access to local, organic food; and protect water quality through ecological farming practices and stream bank restoration.”

Outdoor classes

Outdoor classes

 

Their success has garnered national attention. It is more than just wishful thinking. They turned a truly dangerous section of town into a living habitat for recreation, learning, mentoring, while providing Burlington’s citizens with fresh organic fruits and vegetables.

One Innovation program tenant’s story

To rent land from The Intervale Center, prospective tenants must first present a business plan detailing intended use, plans for growing their business, and a resume of their experience in the chosen subject. Successful lease holders have five years to test their experiment, then they must move on.

One such tenant is Dave Mitchell, of Fat Mitchell’s Pumpkin Patch. A graduate of UVM, Dave knew organic farming was his passion so he began by working for local organic producers until he decided to test pumpkin growing with the opportunity provided by the Intervale.

Now in his second year, he has five acres planted with pumpkins, squash of many varieties, garlic, chrysanthemums, and some herbs. He’s a happy fellow, so has provided rides, parties and games for children. He sells his crop through farmers’ markets and some local outlets.

Ceramic oven for baking bread

Ceramic oven for baking bread

The Tommy Thompson Community Garden contains 150 individual plots available for rental during the growing season.They are administered by the Burlington Parks and Recreation department as part of a network of ten community gardens.

In addition to tool sheds and compost, they have a covered area available for meetings and classes. Recently, we observed a session where the attendees were taught how to bake bread in an open oven using whole wheat grown in Vermont.

If each visitor would be responsible for spreading this concept to one community, the outcome would be beyond the Center’s dreams.

Directions:

From I-89, take Exit 14 – Google Map to 180 Intervale Road.

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