Templeton Farm

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Templeton Farm
3410 Center Road
East Montpelier, Vt. 05651

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Vermont Land Trust on Templeton Farm


A ninth-generation farm deeply connected to its community and local food

At Templeton Farm in East Montpelier, Bruce Chapell and Sherry Miller have turned their summertime "Burger Nights" into a community tradition. While music from a band fills the barn, the entire family pitches in to serve the community burgers from the farm's own grass-fed beef. The plates, heaped with locally sourced potatoes, salad, and the Templeton farm burger, are a labor of love.

Through the production of beef and maple syrup, which are sold at the farm's honor-system store, the Chapell's ninth-generation farm is thriving and sustainable. It also hosts a section of the East Montpelier Trail system!

A Vermont farm evolves over the centuries

The Templeton family and their descendants have worked this hillside farm for nine generations. At various times, they produced hay, grain, wool, apples, milk, maple, and timber.

Stone walls and maple trees border the farm. Sheep, dairy cows, and now beef cattle, have all grazed on the pastures at various points over the farm's nearly 215-year lifespan.

Although Bruce Chapell was not raised on the farm, as a kid, he would come each summer to help his grandmother, Alice, work the fields, milk the cows and do chores. She taught him to value the land and the hard-earned livelihood the farm provided.

Years later, when Bruce was working as a district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the chance to relocate to the farm came up. He moved there in 1988 and starting sugaring on the side.

Farm conservation honors the past, keeps land for the future

Around that time, that Bruce and his sister Brenda started urging their parents to conserve the farm. Bruce says he did not want to see the land developed or subdivided; he wanted his sons, Ryan and Seth, to have the opportunity to continue his family's legacy of working the land.

In 1993, the elder Chapells conserved their farmland and forestland with the Vermont Land Trust.

"My forefathers came to this land," said Bruce. "They cleared this land, built these stone walls, and worked tirelessly. The least I can do is recognize and value their hard work, along with my grandmother's determination, to keep this farm all together."

The farm grows with the local food movement

In 2010, Bruce retired from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and his son graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in animal science. That's when they decided to try their hand at grass-fed beef.

The cattle are raised with sustainable practices, including pasture rotation. They started with just 12 animals and found that they quickly sold out of all beef they produced.

Thanks to Vermont's love of local food, they now have around 60 head at any given time.

Maple syrup and grass-fed beef at the farm store

Bruce and Sherry maintain a farm store, where through the honor system, they sell their grass-fed beef. Customers can also buy maple syrup products produced from the 3500-tap sugarbush. Bruce describes their honor-system store as the "Vermont way" to provide the community with farm-raised food.

Templeton Farm beef is also available at the Adamant and Plainfield coops, the Morse Farm Store, as well as restaurants at Hotel Vermont and Courtyard Marriott in Burlington.

The farm's Burger Night is a huge draw

The more recent addition of festive Burger Nights have helped Templeton Farm grow their fans (and customers). Attendance at the summertime farm-to-plate events has been as high as 240 people.

These events are all-hands-on-deck and would not be possible without volunteer efforts of friends and family.

Family makes it all possible

"It gives me great pride to see our whole family up there and for people to know that for over 200 years, generations of this family, and their descendants, have been farming this land," said Bruce.

"When 90 to 95 percent of the food that is consumed in this state is imported, it makes me so happy to say that all of the food served at our Burger Night is sourced from no more than 40 miles away."

East Montpelier Trails inspire conservation across a town

The Chapells' connection to their community is also found on a trail that runs along the south edge of their farm. The trail is part of the 15-mile East Montpelier Trail system. It was created through incredible community effort, volunteerism, and the generous spirit of landowners like the Chapells.

Farming and recreation co-exist in East Montpelier

When the farm was conserved, a community trail was included as part of the conservation easement. At first, the family was concerned the trail would disrupt farm operations. But the volunteers at East Montpelier Trails built a fence to separate the trail from the working farmland. Bruce reports that trail users have been very respectful of the land.

Neighbors have gone out of their way to thank Bruce for allowing access to the trail and the beauty of traveling its forested path. "People love the trail", said Bruce. "East Montpelier Trails has done more to promote land conservation than just about anything else."

Visit Templeton Farm

Buy sustainably raised beef cuts, maple syrup, and maple cream at the self-serve farm store. (You can also order online.) Several nights a year, you can bring the whole family to one of the farm's burger nights. While in the area, consider a walk, ski, or snowshoe on the extensive East Montpelier Trail system, accessible via Templeton Road (map).