We (Trent and Abby) have been together for a little over 8 years. Sharing a common passion for agriculture, The Gateway Farm was just a matter of time. These 346 acres we call The Gateway Farm was bought in 2014 as an old farm that hadn't seen life in over 40+ years. Some of the tillable acres were rented out to a local dairy farmer that produced hay throughout the summer. Other fields that had been ignored grew up to accommodate every weed species in our area. With trees from our newly acquired land, we cut and milled them on site, then built our house. Again 3 years later we were able to do the same but for our sugarhouse. Our property is your definition of "fixer-upper" and "a work in progress."
Our backgrounds in agriculture differ, you could say Abby is the animal person and Trent is your land and forest guy - so we offer both. We raise our meat animals (beef, pigs, lamb, and poultry) out on pastures. They spend their days consuming grass and roaming the land. We also tap maple trees and produce pure Vermont maple syrup and other maple products. During summer months we grow basic veggies and we locally source fresh fruits.
Other products include honey, jams, pancake mixes, goat milk soap amongst other superior local products available year around in our stand.
A True Passion...
Maybe it was our childhoods, maybe it's our personalities, either way we both agreed there was really something to be said about the work of a farmer. It is all physically, mentally, and socially challenging but we love it anyway. We love being able to care for our animals, we love being able to teach our children (Sophia, Kennett & Bradley) the importance of soil quality and taking care of the earth while loving the responsibility, lessons, and joy that comes with all things farming.
Trent Roleau, 28, grew up in the town next to Bristol. His parents always had draft horses, beef cows, and pigs, as well as producing maple syrup. Trent graduated high school and pursued a degree from Vermont Technical College in Dairy Farm Management in 2009, and a degree in Diversified Agriculture in 2011. Upon graduation Trent went into carpentry because it made him a better living, but farming was always his dream. Trent and Abby were married in 2012, they were waiting for the opportunity to buy their own land.
Abby Roleau (Scholten), 26, grew up on a dairy farm in Weybridge and Shoreham Vermont. Along with milking cows, her family raised their own beef, occasional pigs, chickens (layers and meat), and they started making cheese when Abby was in high school. Abby is a 2+2 graduate getting her degree in Dairy Farm Management from Vermont Technical College in 2011, and then her Community Development and Applied Economics degree with a minor in Animal Science from the University of Vermont in 2013. Like Trent, it was always Abby's dream to farm on her own. Upon graduation from UVM Abby and Trent were building up their business plan to buy The Gateway Farm through Vermont Land Trust. In September 2017 Abby left her off-farm job to be full time at home with their three children and to focus more and be of more help on the farm.
Where did the name come from?
We wanted the name of our farm to be meaningful. Accumulating this land and accomplishing what we have has been a lot of work. During the fundraising through Vermont Land Trust to buy the easements, the valley we reside in was considered the Bristol Gateway Project. Seemed fitting because the "Welcome to the Town of Bristol Vermont" sign is on the southern end of our property in our cow pasture. Not only are we literally the gateway piece of land into town and the town of Bristol being known as The Gateway to the Green Mountains, but figuretively this farm was the gateway to our dream of owning and operating a successful and sustainable diversified family farm.
We want to be a one stop shop for our local community to have fresh access to local foods. In creating this locals will have the pleasure in knowing where their food is coming from, and also take pride in knowing they are supporting a local family farm/business. In having our one stop shop it is our goal to support local as well. If we do not grow it we will look to our neighbor farms to source it.
We had very ambitious visions for this property when we bought it. Turns out things take more patience, hard work, and money than we even could have dreamt. But we are constantly working on something. If you are local and happen to drive by, we hope you like the improvements we made - and for those who live far we hope you continue to check in and follow our journey!
Our mission is to get the land back into small farming production. This includes improving the soil health and adding some much needed agricultural structures. But to also transform our passion into a sustainable and practical business that becomes an asset to the local community.