Retreat Farm, Ltd. is restoring and repurposing one of Vermont’s leading historic farmsteads as a center for education, recreation, farming, processing, markets and events — where people connect to the land and each other.
A fixture of the Brattleboro landscape for 180 years, Retreat Farm encompasses 500 acres of conserved forest, farmlands, trails, waterways, and an historic Farmstead. The Farm sits adjacent to downtown Brattleboro, and serves as a central gateway to Vermont and New England.
Retreat Farm, Ltd., a 501(c)(3) public charity, was formed in 2016 to restore, preserve, and reinvigorate the Farm’s historic lands and buildings. Retreat Farm’s core programs instill a love of the natural world among Vermonters and visitors. We envision the Farm’s lands and historic buildings becoming home to community-advancing activities and enterprises that will complement our programming and strengthen the site as a dynamic community resource.
Retreat Farm Master Plan
Following a public hearing in August 2017, State permitting officials approved the Act 250 permit for Retreat Farm Master Plan, which includes the renovation and repurposing of the eight historic barns on VT-30 as well as the construction of two new buildings and 14 triplex cabins on the 34-acre site.
While the Master Plan build-out is scheduled to be completed over nine years, Retreat Farm will begin hosting weddings, concerts, and events in their new Farmhouse Square immediately. Additionally, the permit allows for construction improvements in the Barnyard, and the renovation of the barns, including the iconic North Barn and adjoining Ox Barn.
We are committed to preserving the historic character and giving new life to the Farmstead by creating opportunities for a variety of local enterprises. This distinctive approach will establish Retreat Farm a regional destination for both residents and visiting travelers, demonstrating in real time Vermonters’ unique and sustainable relationship with the land.
What We’ve Accomplished
With respect to restoration and preservation, we:
• restored and repurposed the Calf Barn as home to our flagship education program
• transformed the historic Farmhouse Square into wedding, concert, and event venue
• restored the historic Farmhouse, now home to our administration and a community space for workshops, birthday parties, and events
• completed year one of a four-year program to restore 200 acres of stressed agricultural lands
• completed a second summer engagement with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps to restore sections of the Retreat Trails network
• rehabilitated the historic Piggery as an outdoor campus featuring pastures, gardens, and an interpretive nature trail
• installed new stormwater management, sewer, water, and electrical systems for the farmstead
With respect to education, we:
• launched the Children’s Farm & Forest education program featuring a new Learning Center, Classroom, and indoor creative Play Area
• provided high-quality, low-cost educational programming to 35+ schools and organizations, and established two education pilot programs serving local students year round
• offered 30 educational workshops ranging from cider pressing to farm animal anatomy
• welcomed over 11,000 visitors to the Farm (a 25% increase over 2016)
Retreat Farm Public Market
As envisioned, the Retreat Farm Public Market will be an indoor, year-round marketplace where residents and visitors can gather and source seasonal food and products from local producers. Located in the North Barn and adjoining Ox Barn, the Public Market will be home to approximately ten permanent vendors and three anchor tenants, and feature a Cafe and Event Hall. If you are interested in co-locating in this unique and historic venue, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Spring we will revitalize the Barnyard by creating an engaging, self-guided educational experience that translates classroom-based STEAM standards into practical, hands-on application. This 18,000 square foot space serves as the key transition area between our indoor spaces and outdoor pastures, garden, and forest preserve. Learning exhibits will interpret elements of farming and the natural world, such as the water cycle, native flora and fauna, and forest ecosystems.
Straight out of nature, the Forest Playground will provide a space where children can dig holes, jump in puddles, squish dirt through their fingers, test their balance, and explore the wonders of the forest. The Muddy Boots Playground will link our two key program areas, serve as a gateway to our outdoor campus and trail network, and support the expansion of our educational programming by establishing a flexible outdoor classroom, imaginative play area, and teaching resource for staff, teachers, and families.