New England has no shortage of delicious locally sourced food items, and Vermont tends to lead the way.
There are endless options for cheese, maple syrup, meats, breads, beer and more, and when driving through the Green Mountain State, it really isn’t that difficult to find them. Roadside farmstands, neighborhood convenience stores and even gas stations are stocked with some great food and drink from local businesses, making it easy for visitors to grab some of their favorite things without having to spend too much time driving around.
This, however, is Vermont, which is a place that’s meant for veering off the beaten path, and a little research will help you find some memorable destination spots, including Sugarbush Farm, which is only a little more than two hours from the Boston area and tucked away in the hills surrounding the picture-perfect town of Woodstock.
As is often the case with hidden gems, half the fun of getting to Sugarbush Farm is getting there, and whether approaching it from tiny Taftsville, just east of Woodstock, or from the charming village of Quechee a bit further to the east, it can be quite difficult to find without a navigation system. The people behind the farm certainly understand that — their website, which gives the GPS address, also says to simply follow Hillside Road from the Taftsville covered bridge or the Quechee Country Club and then follow the “yellow directional signs.”
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Once you’re on track and you climb higher and higher into the hills, the views really begin to open up and, suddenly, the road turns to dirt a little ways before reaching the farm. Just when you think that you may be hopelessly lost, the farm appears out of nowhere and, depending on the time of year, you’ll also likely see a lot of people wandering the grounds with camera phones in hand.
PHOTOS: Fall Colors at Vermont's Sugarbush Farm
The setting for Sugarbush Farm is awe-inspiring, so much so that some come solely for the views, but the farm itself is the type of place that so many come to Vermont for, where you really need to set aside some extra time in order to soak it all in.
The main building is front and center. Formerly a home and now a multi-room farm store/gift shop, there’s a working sugar house perched on a hillside just out the back door with views of the valley below. You might find some furry friends like goats, cows, chickens and horses to the right of the main house, depending on when you go.
Further to the right and set in the woods is a little chapel —yes, people do get married here — and options for walking including paths and trails in the woods.
So what does the gift shop at Sugarbush Farm sell? Well, if you’re a fan of Vermont products, you won’t be disappointed. The store has a little bit of everything, including cheese and maple syrup that’s made right at the farm itself.
Among the variety of cheeses on offer, as you might expect in this part of New England, are aged cheddar cheese — a big seller, including an extra sharp cheese that is aged a whopping six years. There are also slightly less sharp cheddars, aged 1 ½ years and 3 years, as well as mild cheeses and ones flavored with everything from sage to bacon, onion and hot peppers. One of their most popular cheeses is smoked in their smokehouse with hickory and maple wood chips.
Maple syrup is certainly a big draw at Sugarbush Farm. There are literally thousands of trees tapped on the premises, with the sap boiled in the traditional way, via a wood fire. All four grades are offered: golden, amber, dark and very dark. The lightest grade is best for pancakes, waffles and French toast; the darkest best for making items like maple candy; and the middle grades good for cooking and baking.
Sugarbush also sells such maple-based items as maple cream, maple cookies and maple nuts. You can also purchase a few different types of pancake mixes as well.
In addition to cheese and maple products, the gift shop also sells a large number of local food items, including pepperoni sticks, sausage, jams and preserves, honey, fudge, hot sauce, mustard and crackers.
Vermont has so many farm stores and specialty food shops that you’ll never be able to hit them all, but Sugarbush Farm is easily among the most interesting of them. It has everything you want from a classic rural New England experience — marvelous scenery, delicious local foods, friendly people and the type of peace and quiet that will make you never want to leave.
And it happens to reside in one of the closest parts of Vermont to Boston, so Sugarbush Farm — and Woodstock itself — can easily be done as a day trip, and what a day trip it will be.
Sugarbush Farm, 591 Sugarbush Farm Road, Woodstock, VT, 05091. sugarbushfarm.com