Atkins Field: a Community Resource and Gathering Place!
Atkins Field at 140 Granite Street in Hardwick once housed the area's world renowned granite processing plant, Woodbury Granite Company, where half a dozen acre long sheds gave birth to beautiful granite pieces that were shipped all over the world. After the decline of the granite industry in Vermont, the parcel changed hands several times, housing a variety of businesses in its lifetime. It eventually came to be known as Atkins Field, named after a local owner. The Center for an Agricultural Economy purchased the property in 2004, with the intention to preserve the land for community and agricultural use.
- Currently, Atkins Field, a 15-acre parcel of land is adjacent to Buffalo Mountain, is home to a loose system of walking, snowmobile and VAST trails alongside Cooper Brook and one of the last granite sheds in Vermont. Every Friday afternoon, from May to October, the Hardwick Farmers’ Market welcomes hundreds of shoppers, rain or shine. In the spring, the annual Kiwanis SpringFest is held on the grounds. Each spring the field hosts statewide high school forestry competition.
- In 2014 CAE went through an extensive series of surveys and forums to determine the best uses of Atkins Field for the Hardwick community. Priorities outlined by results of this effort guided implementation of Phase 1 of developments at Atkins Field.
- In 2015, the Hardwick Community Gardens were expanded, and a hoop house was constructed, to enhance food access and educational infrastructure for the community. Hazen Union middle school students built 12 new raised hemlock beds - for a total of 40 on the site. These are available for community gardeners, with a natural amphitheater, granite benches and handicap accessible beds. The first rebuilding of the gardens was made possible in part by a fund from the Friends of Burlington Gardens, and the 2015 expansion was made possible by a grant from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund obtained by the Hardwick Area Food Pantry. Pantry clients will have first option on the new garden beds.
- The new hoop house was built by volunteers, led by Mike Feiner of Vine Ripe Construction. It is dedicated to the memory of Vernon Alper, whose family made this possible by donating funds. Vernon was a dedicated community gardener whose wish was to see a community greenhouse available for people to take advantage of, to help extend the gardening season in Hardwick.
In 2015 CAE has also added signs to a beautiful wooden three-faced sign board, and benches built by students of Green Mountain Technical and Career Center. The Vermont Sportsman's All-Terrain Vehicle Association has built a new bridge over Cooper Brook.
Just before winter weather arrived, with help again from community members who donated to make it happen, the 350-foot granite shed has been stabilized and the roof repaired as we work through further planning to find partners who will use the space in the future. Thanks to Makaio Maher of Green Timber Works in Glover for a fast efficient job of bracing up the shed!
For more information or to get involved, please e-mail Community Projects Coordinator Bethany M. Dunbar at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (802) 472-5362 ext. 204.