Brattleboro, VT[Photo Credit: Vintage Steele]
Over the past six years, Retreat Farm has become a vital and beloved community resource. During the pandemic, the organization expanded its operations rapidly to meet emerging community needs – including investing in the trail network, building artistic and interpretive resources, establishing the Community Food Project, and making the grounds free for all to access.
“We’ve built a strong community of members and supporters, and learned a tremendous amount about how Retreat Farm can contribute to both long-term and immediate needs of the Brattleboro area,” said founder and Board President Buzz Schmidt. “Part of that learning is that, unfortunately, the full scope of activities we’ve operated the past couple of years isn’t financially sustainable to continue.”
Retreat Farm will be scaling back its operations and budget, and embarking on a strategic planning process to identify the core activities that can meet critical community needs, leverage Retreat Farm’s unique strengths and resources, and attract sustainable community and philanthropic support to operate. A key part of this shift will be transitioning Retreat Farm to a community-based organization that will rely heavily on volunteers and an active Board of Directors for fundraising, community relationships, and its long-term operating strategy. “To date, Retreat Farm has been primarily reliant on the support of a handful of major donors,” says Schmidt. “But we know that to remain an enduring community resource, we need to make community engagement – both through volunteer and financial support – more prevalent in our work. We will need the help of the community to ensure Retreat Farm thrives over the coming years and decades.”
Retreat Farm continues to be open every day to the public, with its favorite farm animals, including Carlos the Ox, greeting those who visit. Efforts are being made to preserve the Community Food Project and continue to grow and distribute healthy food to those in need. Everyone Eats meals remain available at the Farmstand Tuesday through Thursday each week (while that program’s funding lasts). The team is also gearing up for the summer event season. “We are all looking forward to the Thursday Food Truck Roundups this summer, though we hope for better weather than last year!” noted Schmidt.
Want to help support the Farm? Retreat Farm is seeking financial and volunteer support from the community, including new positions on the Board of Directors to help guide Retreat Farm’s transition. Visit retreatfarm.org for volunteer information, click here to make a contribution, or email to share how you want to help.