72 DESIGNNEWENGLAND.COM MAY/JUNE 2015
A Model Farm Endures
Established in 1886 to showcase modern farming techniques, Shelburne Farms
continues its agricultural mission to teach best practices
written by regina cole • photographed by susan teare
Atoddler leans against the wire mesh of an animal pen in the central courtyard of the Farm Barn at Vermont’s Shelburne Farms, straining to get a closer look at the suckling piglets arrayed against the flank of an enor- mous 2-year-old sow. She moves on to investigate the neighboring goat pen, passes a chicken coop, and
reaches out to touch a lamb held in the arms of Rachel Cadwallader-Staub, manager of the Children’s Farmyard, just one of the programs
Shelburne Farms designed to educate 21st-century city and suburb
dwellers about all things agricultural.
At the moment, the lamb is a teaching tool, but “when he’s done
with his educational work at the end of the season, this lamb becomes
food,” Cadwallader-Staub tells the group of children pressing close.
“Wouldn’t you rather eat lamb stew when you know that the animal
had a lovely life being petted and cared for?” she asks. Small heads
nod as she points to the egg a hen just laid. “That will be someone’s
William Seward and Eliza (Lila) Vanderbilt Webb, who founded
Shelburne Farms in 1886, might be astonished to see strangers —
the farm barn, a massive half-timbered, turreted, and gabled Queen Anne
structure organized around a courtyard (above), is the centerpiece of
Shelburne Farms, whose educational mission includes putting today’s
children in touch with farm animals (right).