The Barber Farm is a unique and special place– everything grown there is donated to organizations like Feeding Chittenden. Jean and Charlie Siegchrist have been managing the farm since 1979 (Jean grew up on the farm). But it’s been around much longer than that; settled in 1774, the farm pioneered agri-tourism 150 years ago and was summer home of Charles Scribner, a founding member of the American Society of Electrical Engineers and colleague of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.
In 2008, years after operating a profitable fruit and vegetable farm, the Siegchrists began donating their produce; in 2017, the Barber Farm became a nonprofit organization. The Siegchrists have grown for donation a wide variety of organic produce including watermelons and cantaloupes, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, squash, and potatoes. Over the years, it has amounted to hundreds of thousands of servings.
Everything the Siegchrists harvest (with the help of a devoted team of volunteers and VYCC members) is donated to hunger relief organizations like Feeding Chittenden. The Barber Farm plays a meaningful role in the fight against hunger in Vermont, and we’re so grateful for their support.
Our goal is to ensure that everyone in our Chittenden County community has access to fresh produce, and generous local partners like the Barber Farm are essential in making that goal a reality.
Walking around his vibrant green vegetable patch on an overcast July afternoon, Charlie Siegchrist said he feels lucky to live and work on The Barber Farm– “I pinch myself pretty much daily.” When asked his favorite crop to grow, he couldn’t decide, saying “that’s like asking me who’s your favorite child!” After some thought, though, he settled on “big, exuberant plants” like squash and pumpkins.
Though Charlie had no plans of being a farmer as a young man, he’s now happy to be in the business of growing food, all of which he donates to worthy causes. His reason for donating the food he grows is simple and obvious: “people need it.” He doesn’t have a breakthrough moment to explain why he started donating, either– it was a logical idea to him at the time, and he was “in a position where he could do it.”
He had hired some college students for his landscaping business when the recession of 2008 caused work for them to run short; to keep them employed, he “put them to work growing food.” Everything they grew that summer– all the fresh, organic vegetables that they could have easily sold at farmers’ markets and local businesses– they opted to donate to Feeding Chittenden and other Vermont-based hunger relief organizations.
They’ve been donating ever since, and continue to play a key role in Vermont’s anti-hunger movement. We are so grateful to work with the generous folks at the Barber Farm, and so happy to distribute their beautiful organic produce to families throughout Chittenden County.