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Shelburne Farms

Educating for a sustainable future


“ This is a time of pivotal, magnified significance for humankind. The fabric of life . . . has been significantly altered through decisions already made by our predecessors and those now living; what happens next depends on what we do, or don’t do, individually and collectively . . . � Sylvia Earle, Oceanographer & National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

Shelburne Farms is a member-supported, nonprofit 501(c)3 learning center based at our 1,400 acre working farm and forest and National Historic Landmark. Our mission is to cultivate a conservation ethic for a sustainable future.


Shelburne Farms is part of an international groundswell of people and organizations dedicated to shaping a better world. Our unique programs focus on education. As we prepare young people to be global citizens, we envision a healthy and just world rooted in diverse, caring, and resilient communities. With this vision in mind, we strive to steward our beautiful agricultural landscape and share it as a learning center that exemplifies the change we hope to see in the world. We collaborate — sharing resources and learning — with networks of educators and partners committed to educating for sustainability. The Farm is a place and an institution that is inspiring, challenging, and supporting students, educators, families, and leaders to grapple with the big question of how to live responsibly in the 21st century. The Farm’s success rests on our ability to make long-term investments in education programs, organizational and enterprise development, land conservation, food and energy systems, natural and cultural resource stewardship, infrastructure improvements, and much more.

The urgency to increase our impact has never been greater.

Alec Webb, President Shelburne Farms

COVER: Summer camp (Orah Moore) FACING PAGE: Farm Barn sunrise (Chris Yager) ABOVE, left to right: Healthy Neighborhoods/Healthy Kids program in China and the Dominican Republic (staff photos), King Street Center preschool partnership program (Vera Chang), Children’s Farmyard field trip (Vera Chang), Adventures preschool program (staff photo)

Orchard Cove Photography

If you are new to Shelburne Farms, we invite you to join us on this journey — cultivating change for a sustainable future — here at the Farm and in your own home communities. If you are already part of this work and unfolding story, we are deeply grateful.


“ Shelburne Farms is at once an idea and a place: an idea that shapes its educational programs; a place that provides a setting in which those programs may thrive. The restoration and adaptation to educational uses of all of Shelburne Farms’ natural, agricultural, and architectural resources will turn this whole wondrous place into a demonstration of the idea that we can learn to reintegrate our lives with our environment.” Richard Whittemore, former Shelburne Farms board member

Shelburne Farms is a vibrant center for learning.

Throughout the seasons, voices of joyful school-aged children echo from our farmyard, fields, and forests. More than 150,000 people visit each year; exploring the land, making connections between nature, food and community, and experiencing the beauty of the Farm. Our programs encourage teachers, students, families, and communities to understand and address the interconnected environmental, social, and economic challenges of our day. Through networking and collaboration, our reach extends well beyond Vermont. In this way, Shelburne Farms is much more than a beautiful campus and working landscape. We embody the idea that, collectively, humankind can thrive while shifting toward ways of living that respect the Earth’s limits. Education — rooted in deep love of place — is our means to this end. TOP: Sustainability Summit for educators (Vera Chang) BOTTOM: Adventures preschool program (staff photo)


“ In 20 years of teaching I can remember four experiences that changed who I am as a teacher. After this week, there are five.” Jen Manfredi, Stonington, CT Project Seasons Workshop

Working with educators extends our impact around the world. At the heart of all we do is increasing awareness about how everything is connected and how our choices affect the health of ourselves, others, and the natural world.

Our programs support teachers and students in applying knowledge and skills to improve their schools and communities. How food is grown, how energy and water are used, how we shape our living environment and govern ourselves — every aspect of life is an opportunity to learn and to inspire citizenship.

“ As school opens doors on a new educational year, I bring with me the joy, wonder, and inspiring spirit collected from our time together at Shelburne Farms. “ With open arms and heart you shared your wealth of knowledge, passion, time, and beloved farm with compassion and respect. I am renewed, refreshed, and still smiling.” Lisa Ingrahm, New Canaan, CT Project Seasons Workshop for Early Educators

TOP: Sustainability Academy In Burlington, Vermont (Andy Duback) MIDDLE: Professional development program for educators (Vera Chang) BOTTOM: New Arrivals summer camp (staff photo)


Early childhood is the ideal time to begin sowing seeds. Simple experiences like collecting eggs and sampling sweet maple sap right from the tree cultivate joy and wonder. As children grow older, experiences such as taste-testing local foods in school cafeterias and surveying one’s neighborhood for “quality of life” indicators empower students to make a difference.

The complexity and scale of issues that we face today call for us to collaborate to increase our collective impact. In 2000, the Farm helped launch the national Place-based Education Evaluation Collaborative (PEEC) to identify and share promising practices. PEEC research from ten studies across the United States suggests a strong correlation between place-based learning and academic advancement. We cannot shape a more sustainable and just world without understanding and caring about the resources and systems that support all life. So we encourage educators to weave big ideas of sustainability throughout all grade levels, revisiting them as seasons change and new learning emerges. Our success is measured by deepening teacher practice and student learning, leading to improvements in the quality of life now and, hopefully, for generations to come.

ABOVE: Stewardship day at Sustainability Academy (Andy Duback) FACING PAGE, top: Wetlands school field trip, and bottom: Education for Sustainability summer institute (Orchard Cove Photography)


Educating for Sustainability

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We encourage young people

to apply knowledge to real-world situations, taking care of the places where they live. Educating for sustainability leads students from inquiry to action to help them build a healthy future for their communities and the planet.

Big ideas of sustainability underpin all our education programs, and as we energize teachers and engage students, these ideas come alive in their schools, communities, and learning. • Change over time • Community • Cycles • Diversity • Equity • Equilibrium • Interdependence equity economy • Limits • Long-term effects • Resilience environment


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n Su pro m fit m f er ou ca nd 1973 — “Ga m e rd ps d Co en at m s m m fo ar un r A ke it y ll ” tg 1974 — Bur a g t ar lin a F de rd ar Fir gt en m n st on be s & Ba M F gi oz ar r n c n m a a S r n 1977 — ch t F ers n in es M g O ool t iv ark ce Br pr al e nt ea og co t + er d ra n op Ba m be c R er e 1979 — aw ke s/fi gi t ns ns ry * e m l ilk op d tr bo en ips 1980 — Fir st ttl s b eg in Be Ha g in ek rve be en st gi Fe n P s ar st 1981 — Ed so iv u ns al Pr cati w op on oo er C ds ty en ho t t C o e 1982 — h p* r u ee rs in op be Co M sem en isk gi ac s a n h el ki l’s ng Ba P r re be n 1984 — De op m g r ie ins en W ick W r al s O e ki b r g ng b an b i t cs ra eq 1986 — Pro * il u op je to ea W ct S en t L on hs el e s co as pr e m on Tr op e e e er Ce s pu 1987 — Inn Hi ty nt bl ll to er ish En at S co n op ed vis he ns on tru p io lb en ne ur s ct rofi d i ne ed t 1990 — Pre n sc a P Far h m “B o as s es ol to o ti p ra pe n ro lS n g S et s h r C a o tin 1991 — hi m w ld g s ” re by lau ar n’s ts nc A A ho m Fa 1992 — rc h e ed w rm hi r ica ; In ve y ar st s n aw d itu es a C he rd op pa te ta es ed en rtn fo bl e s er r S ishe So sh u d cie ip sta fo 1993 — Far ty in in r c m Ce ab ol op Ba nt le C lec en rn ra o tio s; ren l& m n pa o rtn va Ea mu s ca 1994 — Acq te st ni re e ui d er tie r s sit hi & n s M p i Eu (IS o w cC n 1995 — She ro C) i o l t pe + h ure fB lb Ki C Pr ur re ng e oj ne e n di ec E St te ng tS x re r f ea plo et or Ba 1996 — Ne so re C S r

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An idea takes root. Thanks to our wonderful community of supporters,

Shelburne Farms has come a long way since incorporating as a nonprofit in 1972.

The story of the transformation from a private estate threatened by development and decay into a thriving education center weaves together agricultural stewardship and enterprise (constants of this land for hundreds of years) with land conservation, historic preservation and the vibrant strands of today’s education and community programs.

The result is a tapestry of inspiration and hope, 40 years of which are highlighted below. What we do next to amplify this work is vitally important.

Conserving land ... rehabilitating historic buildings and landscape ... developing programs, ente


ew Ce Sc rn on er nt ho sp s4 co Ou co er + ol m ub -H tre ppe p lis pr be Prog le VT ac r o x h r gi ra ed gr & Gr h f oo ns m 40 as or f o in am s s-B Ea n 0 l I a t a C a u 1998 — o as rth Bre cr ns es ed S ed lian nch Re erv ed Fa tew in na at rm a g B iss ion in rds ar a S g hi n As p * 2000 — Ver nce tud so m m Sc y I cia ov Fo on ho ns tio es tit re t F o l u s * n to E Na t f ED op te f o tio or en f N orm the pr E na ve oj s; a ed Fa IS tio l F ry ec rm C+ n or C t la 2001 — Su a la u st e l p s s ar Pa t S sr nc De ain tn rk er oo he si ab er Se vi m d sh rv Ea gna le S ce p w / ip ic rth te ch ro N & in e ( Na gra OF Ch d N oo A As NP l tio m -V ar ati s P ia S) + C te on ro na sta T & 2003 — al be r g a je f& l gi W rte Fo at l H ct Br 4 ns ild d od he is la ee -H w t lif i W rin or un di b t e h o ng ar g; ic ch Fe N rk fie La ed Ba n c de PS s + 2004 — Wat ld nd rn on ra , er m ; n tio s M tr “S R e a sti rk as uc n us es n t t t o e g e Ve ain ur r L d; bi rm ab ce an fir r d on ili s S d st re se t e ty” tew sca Al F l p ar & 2007 — or du “ a S e ch o rd m S S c u t e at n sh be l e He al s w g i s i o gi g p e a al a na o P rd ath ns th rd r l f s o er y N en st Pl je h i an ac c p ing e F r Pl 2008 — ar ig es da e” t la an at hb to m rd ad un -b or ra s op c as ho tio h t e ed ed d od n 2009 — Bre Ed s/H pro as e uc fo din j e e al ct un g at th b io de Ba y K eg n d rn Ne id in at st sG s 2010 — Firs t a L w aw bi ui ts o rk de so ec re liza fo la tio nc tio pu u r e n bl n es pa n Ba ; S de ish ta n of rn us d bl els Pe ed es ta ish o d i e Sc na ed n F st E ho bi 2011 — ne ; p ar ria r ol lity ub m n P Pa gy B Ac l a e i rk ffi sh arn th ad ed ; co Th for cie em n e G E nt n H e s w y+ ist ui ver da or co truc de y ir y o m te to Cla y s 2012 — Pro p d f Ed ssr taff Sh os ; in t uc oo h elb tin st Ou oty at m ou ur g o alle td pe + i o ne p d s r o Co o es n la in fo u g Fa era m r p id r S nc co rm tio m re en us he ns un sc tia s n ta d tr ity ho l l ; 2013 — Cul u i n e S c o a N a ti bi ola ted ig l cl rni Su vat lit r O ht as ng yp r st ing s a sr a c ub cha Ch in Jo t F oom en lis rd te ild ab y & ar b he b i r m pi ren lity W d uil Ba egin at O lo ’s S on t ti E u d r n s rch m n be Su N nvir m er p a r Y g o i d u m C n t 2014 — in b Co in mit sch me for lish ve Ve o oo nt Ed ed n rm f l al uc on utu s + Lit ato er rs 5 t re ac 2022 — 0th of y ed of A Fo uc un no nn i a da np ve tio tio ro rsa n n fit ry

“ No other place I know combines such stunning natural beauty with a quiet groundswell of visionary commitment to stewardship and planetary thinking and doing. The place

reminds you of the things that are important: community, the future, young people. It

stirs up a deep, sweet hope that we can create a sustainable, socially just world! It really

is more than a place, it’s a state of mind.”

Julia Alvarez, author and Shelburne Farms board member

Aerial view of Shelburne Farms (Marshall Webb)

erprises and community access ... collaborating with others to increase impact ...


“ Because a community is, by definition, place, its success cannot be divided from the success of its place … its soils, forests, grasslands, plants and animals, water, light, and air. The two economies, the natural and the human, support each other; each is the other’s hope of a durable and a livable world.” Wendell Berry, author, poet & farmer

Shelburne Farms inspires stewardship, not because

we showcase all the answers, but because every day we grapple with real challenges and complex issues linked to land, food, health, and economics. The authenticity of the Farm as a learning center is grounded in our daily practice. Managing this magnificent working landscape for diverse uses — agricultural production, education, wildlife, residential, and public enjoyment — we strive to make informed decisions grounded in science and understanding of the land’s carrying capacity. Every day we seek to align our farming and food systems, energy use, and operations with the stewardship principles that we teach.

ABOVE: Brown Swiss on pasture (Marshall Webb) LEFT: Harvesting spinach in the Market Garden (Vera Chang)


Sustainable forestry. We carefully manage nearly 400 acres of hardwoods, pine and spruce plantations, along with an ecological forest reserve, to support wildlife, public enjoyment and the production of firewood, lumber, and maple syrup. Clean water. Within the context of our working farm and globally, stewardship of water resources has never been more vital. We are engaged with a community of stakeholders to better understand how land management practices impact water quality, ecology, and human health.

Healthy food. Agriculture connects our lives to the land. Our farmhouse cheesemaking; grass-based dairy, beef, and sheep operations; maple sugaring; vegetable gardens; and small-scale poultry, honey, and mushroom production engage people in hands-on learning and contribute to a healthy regional food system. Renewable energy. We seek to optimize

carbon sequestration and balance our energy needs with what can be supplied from renewable sources, preferably from the Farm.

Community resources.

Providing community access for outdoor enjoyment, programs and special events is an important part of the life of the Farm. Caring for our historic resources and sharing the landscape, gardens, buildings, and collections of this National Historic Landmark add to the special qualities of our campus.

TOP: Forester for a Day family program (staff photo) MIDDLE: Cheesemaking (Marshall Webb) BOTTOM: Solar Orchard (Neil Dixon)


Shelburne Farms aspires to be a leader in best practices

in education and stewardship. While our primary program audience is young people, educators, and families, the Farm as a whole supports learners of all ages to become agents of change. What will it look like as the Farm’s mission takes hold? Classroom walls will be more porous, with life-changing learning happening in urban neighborhoods and rural villages, on farms and in forests, parks, and protected areas. Communities will support and empower young people to take action. Informed and caring citizens around the globe will pursue social justice and the stewardship of natural resources.

ABOVE: Students in an outdoor classroom at the Sustainability Academy at Lawrence Barnes School, a partnership between the Burlington School District and Shelburne Farms. The Academy is the country’s first public elementary magnet school that integrates the big ideas of sustainability into curriculum and campus practices. (Brian Williams)


The Farm’s work is focused on: • educating

for sustainability through programs and resources for educators, young people, families, and communities;

• collaborating

with educational organizations and other strategic partners to support local, regional, and international networks of people dedicated to creating a sustainable future;

• promoting

dialogue and problem-solving around sustainability; and

• conserving

and sharing a beautiful and ecologically healthy working landscape as one example of how humans can have a positive impact on the Earth.

“Addressing our many challenges will require the rise of a new consciousness, with different values … For some, it is a spiritual awakening — a transformation of the human heart. For others it is a more intellectual process of coming to see the world anew … “ But for all, the possibility of a sustainable and just future will require major cultural change and a reorientation regarding what society values and prizes most highly.” Gus Speth, environmental lawyer and advocate

Our vision is to be a global center educating for a sustainable future.

To amplify our impact, Shelburne Farms must deepen the learning we offer by providing inspiring residential experiences where educators and other change-makers convene to connect with the land, share promising practices, and explore sustainability challenges and opportunities for action. Every aspect of our farm-based campus will cultivate learning grounded in place. We will weave our work with communities of educators, to learn from each other as we collaborate on shaping a better world.

TOP: Sustainability Summit at Coach Barn (Orchard Cove Photography) LEFT: Future residential learning center proposed for Southern Acres (SAS Architects)


There’s never been a more important time to take action. Financial sustainability is central to advancing our mission and vision. We achieve this through a balance of charitable support, fees, tuition, program-support enterprises, and socially responsible investments. Your commitment strengthens Shelburne Farms as an educational and community resource, and enhances the collective impact of our education programs with local and global partners.

“ If you can find one good example, you’ve got the grounds for hope.”

There has never been a more important time to take action.

Wendell Berry Our financial sustainability is central to advancing our vision. We achieve this through a balance author, poet & farmer

of charitable support, socially responsible investments and enterprises, fees and tuition, and other sources of earned revenue. Your commitment will strengthen Shelburne Farms as an educational and community resource, and enhance the collective impact of our education for sustainability programs with local and global partners. Please join in our efforts!

TOP: Shelburne Farms working landscape (Marshall Webb) RIGHT: Wild Edibles workshop with field naturalist (Holly Brough)


We are counting on you — our extended community of members, volunteers, collaborators, and friends — to be part of a shared vision for a sustainable future.

ABOVE, left to right: Adventures preschool program (staff photo), Market Garden (Vera Chang), Summer camp (staff photo), Sustainability Academy (Brian Williams)


“ There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” Margaret J. Wheatley

School program at Children’s Farmyard (Vera Chang)

Shelburne Farms

Educating for a sustainable future

1611 Harbor Road • Shelburne, Vermont • www.shelburnefarms.org • 802-985-8686 This paper contains 100% post-consumer recycled fiber, is process-chlorine free, and produced with renewable, biogas energy. This product was printed with vegetable-based inks on an FSC® certified paper.

Shelburne Farms - Educating for a Sustainable Future  

A case for Shelburne Farms educational programs locally and around the world.

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