The Hardwick Yellow Barn Project Updates Spring 2024

Innovating Together: The Hardwick Yellow Barn Project 

Rendering of the Hardwick Yellow Barn Project by Coe + Coe Architecture
Rendering of the Hardwick Yellow Barn Project by Coe + Coe Architecture.

Construction is still going strong at the Hardwick Yellow Barn project. The historic Yellow Barn building has been reinforced and renovations are nearing completion. The new building adjacent to the Yellow Barn, where CAE’s facility will be, is also taking shape. The interior is being framed out and the exterior components including covered walkways and parking areas are being completed. Small farms and rural communities need infrastructure that is adaptable, reduces our carbon impact, and helps maintain our working landscapes. This exciting project will meet the changing needs of our state to build resilience and food security into our future.

June 10 Info session about the Hardwick Yellow Barn Project 
Hear updates about the project, and CAE's dynamic work from CAE's Executive Director, Jon Ramsay.

 

What is the Hardwick Yellow Barn Project? 

The “Yellow Barn Project” is a joint infrastructure project between the Town of Hardwick and local partners to renovate an iconic barn at the west entrance of Hardwick, and to build an adjacent 25,000 square foot structure as a critical piece of local food system infrastructure. The Hardwick Yellow Barn project will strengthen Vermont’s farm-and food-based economy by allowing businesses to grow and expand, develop new products, and connect to external markets. The culmination of a five-year public-private partnership, Yellow Barn is emerging from the global pandemic to become a retail destination and logistical support center for agricultural products. The project consists of two core components: reuse of the historic Yellow Barn, and the exterior construction of a new facility, initially described as the business accelerator.

The Barn  

Yellow Barn 5.16.24
Renovated Yellow Barn in Hardwick, Vermont. May 16, 2024. Photo by Kelly Bogel Stokes.

Cabot Creamery Cooperative will open a retail outlet in the historic yellow barn, showcasing their signature cheeses as well as other local foods made by the region’s artisans. Located at the gateway to Hardwick’s bustling downtown, the site will host events and regular tastings by local businesses such as Caledonia Spirits. 

The New Building

New Building, June 19, 2024.
Image of the new building with exterior being completed. June 19, 2024. Photo by Kelly Bogel Stokes.

The new 25,000 sq. ft. structure is critical to the recovery and growth of the region’s post-pandemic agricultural economy. There will be two anchor tenants: Jasper Hill Farm and the Center for Agricultural Economy (CAE). Jasper Hill will consolidate inventory from scattered locations statewide. CAE will expand capacity to aggregate and distribute locally produced foods from over 100 producers. The facility will be the new home for Farm Connex, CAE’s innovative freight service, and expand storage and purchasing for Just Cut, CAE’s farm-to-institution program. It will have community conference room space with a teaching kitchen to expand workshop and educational opportunities. 

CAE’S Role in the Hardwick Yellow Barn Project & Frequently Asked Questions

At the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) we support rural communities and working landscapes by building a more interconnected local food system. We cultivate community by organizing and collaborating with farmers, food producers and neighbors. We strengthen the agricultural economy by providing farm & food business resources, access to capital, shared infrastructure, and dynamic social enterprises. This new infrastructure means CAE will have adequate space to meet the needs of our farmers and support future resilience of our communities.

Impacts from CAE’s activities in the new space. 

  • 100+ farms will benefit from increased market access in the region.
  • Expansion of CAE’s Farm Connex delivery service, projected to distribute $15 million in local products.
  • Providing the region and farmers with 5,000 square feet of affordable cold, frozen, and root crop storage     infrastructure for perishable products. 
  • Schools and hospitals will have more connections to produce growers through CAE’s Just Cut program.
  • CAE’s space will be energy efficient, decreasing reliance on fossil fuels and include a rooftop solar array. 
  • Strengthened community relationships with partners to prepare for future emergencies and contribute to long term food security. 
  • The community will have a gathering and education space that serves as a platform to foster connection and engagement to reduce social isolation and food insecurity.

What does this mean for CAE’s existing facility The Vermont Food Venture Center (VFVC)? 

VFVC will continue to play a critical role in CAE’s work. The VFVC was designed as a food processing facility. It serves multiple functions including distribution but there is not adequate space to meet the demands of the farming community. A complementary space with adequate food storage will increase processing capacity at VFVC. 

What does this mean for Farm Connex? 

This new building allows Farm Connex to operate out of a space more appropriate for their size. The current leased warehouse is 19 feet wide with a single loading dock, and over $13million in local products are aggregated and distributed out of this warehouse annually. The new space will have multiple loading docks and more room to work, which will increase efficiency. The new space allows Farm Connex to hold inventory for more producers, reduce redundancies, grow to meet an ever increasing demand, and have adequate office space for staff. 

What is the cost to CAE? 

CAE is responsible for everything inside the space it will lease. This includes heating, cooling, refrigeration, office space, conference room, and kitchen. CAE launched a public bid to find a construction company to do this work. Early cost estimates are $2 million. CAE’s funding for fit up is 25% federal and 75% private contributions.

Who owns the property? 

The Town of Hardwick owns the property, The Northeast Kingdom Development Corporation (NEKDC) has signed a ground lease with the Town of Hardwick to manage and operate the Yellow Barn.

What is the current timeline?

Construction began in summer 2023, with projected completion in late 2024.

For more information regarding CAE's role in the Yellow Barn Project please contact Jon Ramsay at jon@caevt.org 

The Farm Connex team prepares a delivery in the current Farm Connex warehouse. Photo by Elizabeth Rossano
The Farm Connex team prepares a delivery in the current Farm Connex warehouse. Photo by Elizabeth Rossano.