Judy & Will Stevens
Judy is a fourth generation Vermonter from southern Vermont. Her family ran a successful Christmas tree business in the Londonderry area for many years. This experience helped her and Will to create a successful mail order wreath business that they ran from the farm until about 2000. Will moved to Vermont from the Ticonderoga, NY area in 1977 to finish his college education at the University of Vermont, which is where he and Judy met. He graduated in 1980 with a BA in studio art, with a specialty in blacksmithing.
The Early Years
After spending the summer of 1980 at Shelburne Museum (Judy as a weaver, and Will in the Blacksmith’s Shop), they were serendipitously presented with the opportunity to ramp up their homestead gardening interest to a commercial scale, and in the first several years everything they grew was sold exclusively at the Burlington Farmers’ Market. From the beginning, their mission has been to provide good quality food to people at reasonable prices.
Started a Family & the Farm in Shoreham, VT in 1984
Shortly after they moved to an old dairy farm in Shoreham, VT, in November 1984, they began to raise a family–Freeman was born in 1986, Pauline in 1989, and Anna came along in 1991. The kids had a sand pile in front of the shed, which, as the greenhouse plant business grew over the years, became a magnet for customers’ children. At some point the pile was moved to its present location at the corner of the flower garden, which makes it much easier for shopping parents to keep an eye on their own children!
Boards, Activities & Public Service
Between 1989 and 1992, Will served as President of Vermont Organic Farmers, which then was NOFA-VT’s certification committee. This was an exciting time in the world of organic agriculture. The sudden interest in the link between food safety and production practices was inspired by Meryl Streep’s CBS appearance on 60 Minutes in the fall of 1989, when she railed against a particular spray used on apples. “Mothers and Others for Pesticide Limits” was formed, bringing public awareness to the benefits of organic agriculture. Suddenly, a fringe movement that had been based in back-to-the-land ideals found itself moving toward mainstream. Some would say that this was the beginning of the localvore movement.
Vermont Fresh Network
Judy served for 3 years on the board of the Vermont Fresh Network. VFN strives to foster meaningful, mutually profitable relationships between Vermont food producers and chefs, and was one of the earliest formal “Farm to Table” initiatives in the nation.
Shoreham Town Affairs
Judy and Will have been actively involved in Town affairs through various organizations and boards. Judy served on the Rescue Squad through much of the eighties, and has played an important role in the expansion and promotion of Shoreham’s Platt Memorial Library over the last twenty years. Will was elected to the Town Planning Commission in the mid-nineties, and eventually chaired it for several years. He has since served on the Select and Zoning Boards, and has been elected Town Moderator every year since 2004.
Four Terms in the Vermont Legistature
In November 2006 Will was elected to the Vermont Legislature (as an Independent, representing the Towns of Benson, Orwell, Shoreham, and Whiting) for the first of four two-year terms. He was on the House Agriculture and Forest Products Committee all eight years, and served the last four as ranking member. He is especially proud of two programs that came out of his committee during that time: the Farm to Plate and Working Lands Initiatives.