Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Explore our latest coverage of environmental issues, climate change and more.

Late Frosts Help Upper Valley Farmers

After an unusually warm October, most of Vermont’s gardeners are finally seeing killer frosts, and even some snow in some parts of the state. 

But in the Upper Valley, the harvest goes on.

At the Kildeer farm stand in Norwich, shoppers are still filling their bags with fresh berries, tomatoes, even green beans. The deep freeze is coming late to the Upper Valley this year, and that’s added a few weeks to a growing season that got a soggy start.

At the farm a few miles away, on a mild morning after one of the first frosts of the fall, Leo Moreno is happily picking kale. He just got down to work here after a stint in the Air National Guard.

“Basically I came back to working in the fields and it’s been great, and the weather’s been pretty good, and especially for kale, with this kind of cold weather, hopefully it’s going to make it taste better than how it usually is,” Moreno said.

Moreno’s boss, farm owner Jake Guest, says he’s been able to supply customers not just with frost-hardy kale, but with sweet corn and fragile greens long after those vegetables are usually frozen. That’s been important to his bottom line because the wet spring was not kind to all of his crops.

“You know if the fall were cool early I would say we did not have a particularly good year. But given this weather it’s kept sales up pretty good and we have had a pretty good year,” Guest said.

Guest says he hopes to keep the farm stand open until Thanksgiving, with plenty of fresh produce. That’s not how he used to operate 30 years ago.

“Now that’s changed, when I first started farming here we would make sure we had all our winter squash, for instance, harvested by the middle of September because we used to get frosts regularly in late September,” he recalled.

And Guest says he’s also planting much earlier in the spring than he used to.

That’s not surprising. Jay Shafer, a meteorology professor from Lyndon State College, says over the past ten years, Vermont’s growing season has added about ten days.

“The growing season is expanding slightly and that’s more due to the earlier arrival of springtime than arrival in the fall time of the first frost,” Shafer said.

But, Shafer notes, both of those arrivals are highly variable, depending on where you live in Vermont.  Smack in the middle of storm tracks, with varied topography, Shafer says this small state is unusually diverse when it comes to micro-climates.

Which is why when some Vermonters are hitting the slopes, others could still be cutting kale.

Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.
Latest Stories