Sustainable Living

Viticulture - Vermont's Newest Localvore Trend

Vermont Wine Vineyards

The drive from Burlington south along Routes 7 and 22A gives a visual clue as to Vermont's newest Localvore trend. Viticulture and viniculture has become one of the fastest growing agricultural segments in Vermont's continuing local food product markets. Wine vineyards are being established throughout Vermont as winter hardy grape varieties have changed the way we think of Vermont produced wine. Vermont has always had a small wine industry focusing on apple, pear and blueberry wines. However, due to research and development at Midwestern universities, grape varieties have been developed that can withstand Vermonts harsh winter conditions. Marquette, St Croix and Frontenac are just a few of the varities that have found a welcome home with Vermont vintners. 

An excellent new book on the subject is "An Unlikely Vineyard" by Deirdre Heekin 2014 published by Chelsea Green Publishing. Deirdre along with her husband Caleb Barber have owned and operated one of Vermont's premier restaurants in Woodstock, Osteria Pane e Salute, for many years. Having grown many of the herbs and produce used in the restaurant on their farm in Barnard, it was a logical progression to develop a vineyard. "An Unlikely Vineyard" is beautifully written and illustrated and fully captures the spirit of connecting with our earth and it's bounty. Their website, www.lagaragista.com, is well worth perusing. 

There are many resources to learn more about Vermont's wines and vineyards, including the Vermont Grape and Wine Council and VermontWine.com. And for those really wanting to learn more there is the Vermont Wine School. Whatever the interest level is, the vineyards with their carefully trellised vines add another beautiful element to the Vermont landscape.

Posted by Wade I. Treadway  5/11/2015 

Celebrating Vermont's Hard Cider Producers

Vermont Hard CiderVermont’s position as one of the country’s strongest localvore/foodie states is constantly being reinforced by the accolades of international organizations. Just this week Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro won top honors for it’s Bayley Hazen Blue at the World Cheese Awards in London. And they weren’t alone, two Grafton Village Cheeses won super gold and Vermont Creamery won eight medals. Clearly the artisan cheese producers of Vermont are setting international standards of excellence.

Perhaps the fastest rising food related industries in Vermont is the hard cider industry. Ten years ago there was one producer of hard cider in Vermont, today there are fifteen. The demand for hard cider produced in Vermont is very strong and growing by the day. This week is being promoted as Cider Week Vermont. A week long celebration of cider tastings, cider mill tours and food and music at many of the stops statewide. Check out the complete calendar of events at the website vermontciderweek.com .

I have been visiting orchards and tasting hard ciders throughout my travels around the state this fall and I’m struck by the sophistication of the hard cider offerings. In addition to a selection of wine at Thanksgiving next week. I will have at least 2 or 3 hard cider choices. Something new for us but I’m sure we won’t be alone.

Posted by Wade I. Treadway

Land Enhancement

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As spring is roaring into place, I am remembering all of those projects that were put on hold with winters arrival. Many of those projects are outdoors and involve bettering our immediate environment. Since purchasing our 10 acre homestead, we have removed the overgrown Christmas trees that were abandoned years ago and rejuvenated the fields. We have cleared roughly an acre of poplar, ash and beech that had taken over the front field. The tree lines have been thinned and the branches elevated. And the work continues.

A term that has entered our lexicon in recent times is Land Enhancement. I'm not sure if he coined the phrase, but a good friend, Will Russell used the term to describe his company Chippers. Chippers has grown to be regional company with it's focus on Land Enhancement. Land Enhancement might best be described as actions which improve the health and aesthetic of any given land component. This can include pruning, selective cutting of trees and shrubs, fertilizing, mowing and perhaps reshaping the contours. There are many companies such as Chippers that specialize in this work. Short of hiring a company to assess your properties needs, educating oneself of what is possible is prudent and great fun.

New owners of Vermont properties that have acreage have a unique opportunity to learn and engage in it's maintenance and it's proper stewardship. One of the best starting points would be to get familiar with Northern Woodlands magazine. Both the print version and their website is a huge resource for getting familiar with your land. I would also recommend a publication they produced titled, "The Place You Call Home: A Guide to Caring for Your Land in Vermont". This may be purchased in print or viewed as a pdf file on their website. The title pretty well sums up the excellent content.

However, you engage in Land Enhancement, the rewards are most beneficial for the land, your enjoyment of your property and in no small part the value. Stewardship at it's best.

Posted by Wade I. Treadway

The Vermont Experience from the Other Side

Burlington's Hotel Vermont

Every once in a while it is good to step out of the box and look at what we see from the perspective of someone else. As a real estate broker, it's always interesting to get a clients reaction to an experience here in Vermont that is common to us who reside here but new to them. Conversely it is important and prudent for me to see Vermont through the eyes of a visitor.

Such was the case this weekend when we traveled to Burlington to attend the Banff Mountain Film Festival, an annual event that is well worth the trip. As has been our custom, we head up Friday afternoon, get a room for the night, have an early dinner and attend the festival. This year I decided to try the newest of Burlington's hostelries, the Hotel Vermont. The Hotel Vermont is locally owned and opened for business in April 2013. The theme is distinctly Vermont oriented from the construction, decor, amenities and the personnel. The basic premise could definitely be an easy setup for a cheese ball experience. Fortunately it has been pulled off exquisitely.

After checking into our room with it's great view of #Lake Champlain, we headed the Hotels restaurant, Hen of the Wood. This proved to be one of the best dining experiences we have had in a very long time. Locally sourced farm to table ingredients combined into imaginative dishes that were delightful. Once again, #Vermont themed decor and an outstanding staff. The next morning, we chose to have breakfast at Juniper, the hotels bar/restaurant. Once again we were treated to an exceptional meal.

I don't usually gush about such experiences, but I was greatly impressed by all that I saw of the Hotel Vermont. This is definitely a high recommendation for my clients visiting the Burlington area. Once they have experienced this, they will not want to leave. Can't help but boost business. And all you Vermonters, you owe it to yourself to reaffirm why Vermont is so special.

Posted by Wade I. Treadway

The Impact of Climate Change on Vermont Real Estate

The motivations of why people want to relocate to Vermont are many and varied. As a real estate professional, I keep my eyes and ears open to understand what it is about Vermont that attracts buyers. Certainly there are trends that tend to be cyclical in nature. A review of skiing in Vermont and the ownership of a second home in a ski community has had many ups and downs of the last 40 years. Dependency on nature providing sufficient snow morphed into dependence on snow making, traditional skiing attendance was hugely added to with the advent of snowboarding, and improved roads, snow removal and 4 wheel drive vehicles made access far easier.

Ciimate Change

If there is a single phrase that defines why people choose to move to Vermont, it is "quality of life". For those of us living here full time, we tend to take for granted many basic elements that the rest of the world is finding in short supply. Clean air, plentiful water, low crime and strong sense of community create the environment that attracts people to Vermont. But over the last 15 years, there have been added incentives. We have seen a tremendous amount of people moving to Vermont to participate in the "locavore" movement. The prospect of growing your own produce, boiling your own maple sap into syrup and raising animals has great appeal. The amount of cheese producers, microbreweries, and now even distilleries has grown at an astonishing rate. This has been a boom for agricultural properties.

The latest trend that I am seeing is a strong reaction to the obvious changes taking place world wide due to climate change. I have in the last two months had three international inquiries about properties that started with questions about water. Vermont is blessed to have such an abundance of water, natural resources and the legislative laws to protect them. The weather patterns of the last few years have demonstrated that our world is indeed changing and more people are looking to places that can and will adapt to those changes easily. I have always looked at Vermont as the perfect place to live and the changes that we are facing is proving that point to more and more people every day. I am experiencing a dramatic increase in inquiries, showings and sales over the last year that I can fully attribute to growing concerns about climate change and its impact on our environment. Vermont is viewed as a very desirable place to live in these changing times and the real estate industry of Vermont is responding.

Posted by Wade I. Treadway

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    Conservation Easements - Beneficial to the Land, Detrimental to Marketing?

    Conservation easements are often quite misunderstood.

    conservation easementsThey are simply an instrument by which a landowner can protect their land from future development into perpetuity. Conservation easements are unique to each and every land parcel that gets conserved. They can control not only future development but limit and control the uses of the land as well. First and foremost, their major benefit is to protect and continue proper stewardship of the land. However, there are distinct advantages from a tax standpoint to conserving land. To better understand the basics, I would recommend visiting The Nature Conservancy website. As a national organization, The Nature Conservancy is perhaps the most widely recognized and known advocate of conservation easements. However, as an individual becomes more educated into the specifics of conservation easements, they will most likely find many local organizations as well.

    Here in Vermont one of the oldest and largest overseer of conservation easements is the Vermont Land Trust. They not only oversee and enforce the easements, they are instrumental in educating and guiding landowners through the legalities and benefits, and the writing of the binding agreement. Many regions and communities also have their own more localized land trusts. The Upper Valley Land Trust, Richmond Land Trust and Lake Champlain Land Trust are just a few examples.

    Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 4.29.42 PMIn the simplest form, a conservation easement strips away the ability to develop the land parcel. This in theory, drops the value of a property. By having two appraisals done, one with no restrictions and one with the developments removed gives the differential by which an individual can gain tax credits. This is dictated by Federal Tax guidelines. Now I said in theory, it drops the value of a property hence it's sale price. In most cases and certainly in most areas of the country, this holds true. However, practice has demonstrated here in Vermont that a property that has a conservation easement on it, hence no ability to develop it beyond its current use, does not necessarily mean that the market price of the parcel is lowered.

    Indeed, several of the record sales of the last decade in Vermont for private residences have been properties with conservation easements on them. The reason is that typically buyers of Vermont property are more concerned with the preservation of the land than selling off parcels for development. Of course each property is unique to itself and every conservation easement is equally unique, but in general, having a conservation easement on a property in Vermont does not necessarily mean that it's fair market value is less or that it will be detrimental to marketing of the property.

    Conservation easements have protected millions of acres of private land throughout the country, and are one of the more successful means of preserving open space and wildlife habitat. I strongly recommend visiting the above referenced sites to better understand this important component of stewardship of our lands.

    Posted by Wade I. Treadway

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      Hardwick, Vermont: A Community on the Move

      Hardwick Vermont Real Estate

      For those of us living in Vermont, the Locavore movement is in strong evidence wherever we are.

      The proliferation of CSA's(Community Supported Agriculture) offering locally based produce, meats and farm goods has grown exponentially. The number of Farm to Table restaurants seems to grow daily. And the exposure in not only local but national and international media has brought what we are doing into a world focus. Vermont is clearly setting an example for all to follow.

      As Vermont sets an example for the rest of the United States and foreign countries, we have our own example to follow. And that example is the very humble community of Hardwick. Hardwick has been featured in Gourmet Magazine and The New York Times. It has spawned a very catchy titled book, "The Town That Food Saved, How One Town Found Vitality in Local Food" by Ben Hewitt. And most recently in a most wonderful book, "Kingdom's Bounty, A sustainable, eclectic, edible guide to Vermont's Northeast Kingdom" by Bethany M. Dunbar.

      "Kingdom's Bounty" is a illuminating guide to some of what is taking place in Vermont on a local scale. As such it helps to demonstrate to all of us how a community can develop a comprehensive plan for the future based on local resources. The cooperative efforts of Hardwick have created The Center for an Agricultural Economy which operates the Vermont Food Venture Center. A model for all communities with an agricultural base.

      Posted by Wade I. Treadway

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              Timing is Everything

              A very familiar refrain that couldnt be more appropriate than now for Wade I. Treadway and for the state of real estate in Vermont.

              This is the very first blog entry of what will be regular posts by Wade Treadway with occasional guest postings, on all subjects Vermont and property ownership in Vermont.With over 16 years experience as a real estate broker in Vermont, I have seen many changes not only in the business of real estate brokerage but with the State of Vermont. Most notable is the image and perception of Vermont. Vermont has transcended the notion of being a skiers haven and second home market to being a very strong primary home market with a full four seasons of work, recreation, culture and education. The state has recognized the need for total high speed internet access which is attracting businesses and facilitating individuals to work from home.

              The locavore movement in Vermont is nothing short of revolutionary. Traveling delegations from other countries are coming to Vermont to better understand the importance of self sustainability to strengthen communities and towns. Vermont towns are becoming examples of how to look to the future. With Vermonts four seasons, we are fortunate to live in an area of the country that can easily adapt to the changes that climate change is creating.

              I look forward to communicating what is happening in Vermont through this blog and at having the fortunate opportunity to introduce and help others as they search for Vermont properties through my new website. Please visit often.