With our community partners, Atkins Field and our community green space is the place for your history, trails, art, family, food and more. Join us! Visit Atkins Field at 100 Granite Street in Hardwick.
Update: July 31
We are so excited to be able to once again welcome folks back to Atkins Field! The ground has dried out enough to one again accommodate activities, and an incredible group of staff and volunteers have worked to clean up the space so it can continue to be a welcoming and important community resource for all.
Update: July 11, 1:50 pm
Due to flooding, ATKINS FIELD IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: at least until Monday, July 17. At the time of this writing Tuesday, the water is still 8 inches deep or more, and we have yet to ascertain the potential pollution and physical damages that have been done. Please stay off the field until we open the property back up for public use. The farmers market that was scheduled for July 14 is canceled. Community gardens are closed until soil testing can be accomplished. We apologize and can't wait to see everyone again! Take care of each other! Thanks in advance for your understanding.
The pavilion at Atkins Field is available to reserve for the season. If you would like to make a reservation, please contact Bethany. Bethany@hardwickagriculture.org
Hardwick Community Garden:
The Hardwick Community Gardens are a vibrant space located at Atkins Field, with picnic tables, tools, greenhouse, shelter and walking paths along the Lamoille River. The Garden’s educational, recreational, social and food security benefits attract a wonderful range of both new and seasoned gardeners, including families, individuals, and school groups. A community greenhouse on the property is shared by residents and the local elementary school.
Hardwick Community Gardens and orchard offer gardening spaces for those who do not have enough physical room at their homes. The gardens are located at Atkins Field on Granite Street in Hardwick and owned by the Center for an Agricultural Economy, a nonprofit organization. The field is the former site of the Woodbury Granite Company and offers trails, an open air pavilion, an historic 350-foot granite shed, and markers of historic relics. The town of Hardwick maintains a bicycle pump track and skating rink in winter.
The community gardens started in a location closer to the village but too close to the Lamoille River where flooding
was an issue each spring. Flooding from Cooper Brook is still an issue at Atkins Field but not as bad. In 2012, the first raised beds were built because of granite remnants all through the ground, which meant it cannot be tilled. The raised beds help protect produce from flood waters at the same time. The number of garden beds was expanded in 2015 and the hoop house put up in memory of Vernon Alper, a community gardener.
The gardens include 64 gardening spots outdoors and inside the community hoop house, built of rough hemlock and cedar. The property is organic so no herbicides are allowed. The community orchard has more than 49 fruit trees and berry bushes, including apples, pears, plums, seaberries, nuts, blueberries and raspberries. Fruit is free for anyone to take a handful.
Gardeners who qualify for the Hardwick Area Food Pantry (300 percent higher than the poverty line) qualify for one free lease on a garden bed per year. Outdoor beds are leased for $25 a year for all others, and indoor beds and bench spots are $15 for the year. Many gardeners lease more than one bed, three outside beds and two inside maximum. High Mowing Organic Seeds donates seeds. In 2022 we started a collective garden project and grew a successful potato patch. Collective gardeners each ended the season with 25 pounds of potatoes. Hayley Williams in the collective garden project coordinator. In 2023 we are expanding to a few other crops.
Bob Duggan is orchard manager. Garden bed building and repairs and orchard plantings were done in partnership with Hazen Union School as student community service and learning projects.
For more information please contact CAE Community Programs Manager Bethany M. Dunbar at email@example.com.
"I think the garden is the most practical and fun way to be in community here in Hardwick. Every growing season is a new experience and adventurous."
- Hardwick Community Gardener
In warmer months, we host the Hardwick Community Gardens, Hardwick Farmers Market, Grow Your Own gardening, cooking, and preserving workshops, outdoor school classes, recreation and nature trails, a community orchard with 49 fruit and nut trees, and so much more.
Plans for 2022 include steps toward the shared vision of a renovated granite shed as shown here in an image created by UVM engineering students. Preliminary schematic designs, engineering and budgeting for a full renovation are all in our 2022 work plan! Stay tuned. This space could allow the Hardwick Farmers Market a three-season shelter. It could be covered space for recreation, historic displays and information, educational workshops, growing more food, a climbing wall, picnics, a simple indoor winter walking space. What would you like to see this space used for? Send us a note: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are excited to be working with the Town of Hardwick and Hardwick Kiwanis to bring back the annual Spring Festival for the first time in three years Memorial Day weekend 2022! Modern Times Theater has a terrific idea for a home-built midway created with local students. We plan to bring back the big parade, human truck pull and much more. We do not know what will be happening with the pandemic, but one of the lessons from the crisis is how to manage safe outdoor events. We can do that!
Do you know the history of the Atkins Field property? It’s amazing and fascinating:
At the turn of 20th Century, Woodbury Granite Company owned Atkins Field, and grew to employ nearly 1,400 people in our town. Bustling granite sheds, trains, and stonework manufacturing enabled the company to ship Vermont granite all across the United States. Courthouses, city halls and other foundational buildings from Chicago to Washington DC utilized this natural resource.
When the Company closed in 1935, the 15 acre space became an informal town green, where horse pulling contests, beagle trials, and even a winter ice rink were set up for the Town's citizens to enjoy. As the granite company buildings fell into disrepair, Hardwick locals would use the fields, and the leftover stone, for their own purposes. Whether Vt Association of Snow Travelers, Vt All-Terrain Sportsman Association, or birders and dog-walkers, the field and forest have had both formal and informal trails for decades. Hardwick's Kiwanis Club hosted the very first Spring Festival on the field in 1950 - a tradition that's still in full force decades later!
In 2008, the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) purchased the land with an easement by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board including a provision that it will always be open to the public. CAE’s intent was and is to showcase the history and to provide a space for community to grow food and learn together. In addition, trails, a bicycle pump track and the gardens and orchard provide natural recreation resources used by all and well-placed to connect with the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail in the near future.
2011: Hardwick Farmers Market moves to Atkins
2013: Hardwick Community Gardens move to Atkins
2015: Community Hoop House is built, and gardens expand
2016: Community orchard and permaculture plantings are completed - by Hazen high school students
2018: Timber frame open-air pavilion built with scissor truss design to mimic the granite shed’s internal structure.
2021: University of Vermont engineering students created a vision and plans for a repurposed granite shed
2022: Plans are for a schematic design to assess how the 350-foot granite shed can be renovated.
Want to get involved? Have some ideas? Get in touch!
Visit Atkins Field at 100 Granite Street in Hardwick, VT 05843.