Amanda had worked several years at Pomykala Farm and learned a lot from Bob and Jane. She also studied plant and soil science at UVM and graduated in 2001. Amanda worked several years for the USDA and then for UVM Extension.
Hugo worked for almost 10 years at Island Excavating and in 2009, he stopped to devote his attention to the farm that had grown to include laying hens, larger vegetable fields and a farm stand. The family grew at the same pace as Leila was born in 2006 and Juneau followed in 2008.
In 2010, they expanded their laying hen numbers to around 1000 birds and started selling their eggs at a few Hannafords supermarkets in the Burlington area. They grew enough vegetables, berries and flowers to sell at the Champlain Islands Farmers Market on Wednesday and Saturday as well. They also worked with City Market to sell their eggs and excess vegetables.
“In 2011, we purchased the adjoining property that included a large barn and a cool straw house sitting on 20 acres of land.” Amanda recalled. “That purchase enabled us to increase our vegetable production so that we could offer a CSA and provided us with the ability to house our summer workers comfortably.” During this time, various greenhouses were built, new fields were cleared and the egg laying flock grew to 3000 birds.
“Then in 2014, we built a European style barn with colony nests for the winter months.” said Gervais. “In the warmer months, the hens go outside to scratch for worms, bugs and grass, but when the weather is too wet or cold for them to make good use of the pastures, the barn allows us to keep the hens inside. This helps us keep the hens warmer and maintains a better egg production. We constantly try to improve the efficiency of the work around the farm as well. We work to make better use of our chicken manure by composting it more rapidly and under cover.”
Today, they have about 4000 laying hens which they raise from chicks to ensure a good flock age and size. Not only do they raise pastured broilers, they also grow vegetables and flowers on 3 acres of fields and in 5 greenhouses.
“We have a vibrant CSA of 65 members and participate in one year-round market in Burlington and 2 weekly summer markets in the Islands.” said Amanda. During the winter months Amanda and Hugo do most of the work by themselves and in the summer their ranks swell to include family, summer workers and friends that come and help from time to time. “We love to work with others as this makes the long days more pleasant. Our farm has grown with the support of our wonderful customers, City Market and all our workers.”
Next Saturday, August 20th Savage Gardens will host the second annual “Farm Dinner and Contra Dance”. The evening will include dinner from 5-7, featuring Savage Garden’s chicken and vegetables as well as other local products. Then from 7-9 the dancing will commence with featured caller Jacob LeGrone.
Come out and share an evening of good food, good friends and good times at Savage Gardens Farm. Tickets are $25 per person, and kids are free. Purchase your tickets at Savage Gardens farm stand in North Hero, or at the Farmers’ Market in Grand Isle on Saturday, or contact them through their website at savagegardensvt.com.