The land is open during daylight hours.
Contact Ben Waterman with any questions.
Shortly before the American Revolution, the un-ceded native land that would become King Farm was sold to land speculators. By 1793, a farmstead was established that has been in use ever since, offering an unprecedented glimpse into Vermont’s agricultural history.
King Farm exemplifies the self-sustaining Vermont hill farm. Through careful stewardship, it has endured for more than two centuries. The Kings renovated the property over the years as agricultural practices and technology evolved, but the farm’s character, layout, and nearly all of its early buildings have remained intact—from the rambling old farmhouse to the sheep barn and ice house.
The legacy of the Kings began in 1807, when Jabez King bought the farm for its fertile fields, proximity to transport, and orientation to the sun. He and his wife Abigail worked the land for nearly 30 years; their descendants would continue their work generations to come. Over the years, the King family and various tenants raised livestock such as cattle, pigs, goats, chicken, and sheep and sold products like maple sugar, butter, wool, and—with the addition of the ice house—milk.
Jabez and Abigails’s last descendant was their great granddaughter Francisca King Thomas (1898-1985). Francisca shared memories with us of her childhood on the farm: skimming cream and loading it onto wagons for delivery to the local Hood Creamery, splitting ice from 400-pound blocks into manageable chunks that she could carry into the house. In 1960, she moved back to King Farm and lived the rest of her life there.
Francisca left the King Farm to the Ottauquechee Regional Land Trust in her will. She wanted to ensure that the farm remained in use for agriculture and forestry, offering plenty of educational opportunities for the public and surrounding community.
Two years later, the Ottauquechee Regional Land Trust renamed itself, and Vermont Land Trust was born.
King Farm was our first headquarters from 1987 until 1990 and continues to house a regional office today.
The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission now occupies most of the rest of the building.
The living quarters attached to the north end of the farmhouse have been converted to a caretaker’s apartment, where the property’s current farmers reside.
The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps uses the land as part of a program with the National Park Service. And, Woodstock High School offers students outdoor education here, providing practical experience in on-the-ground conservation projects. School groups frequent the farm throughout the year, often completing trail work, benches, and maple sugaring. We also use the land to test out land management practices and share what we learn through our educational events.
The farm is home to miles of public trails that wind through open meadows and woods. Along the way you’ll see stone walls, sculptures, ancient trees, and stunning vistas of Mt. Ascutney and pastoral countryside. The farm abuts the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. The farm and National Historic Park are linked by trails.
Sustainable Woodstock hosts a community garden plot on King Farm, offering between 10 and 20 plots for use by local families and organizations. Some gardeners grow food for the local food shelf or donate surplus food.
Sculpturefest’s organizers, Charlet and Peter Davenport, have invited world-renowned artists to exhibit work on their property for over three decades. More recently, the Davenports created the LandARTLab: a partnership to expand the festival to neighboring King Farm. Each summer and fall, visitors are invited to experience the arresting interplay between art and nature.
On the two-acre farmstead, you can admire (from a distance) the original farmhouse and its 10 additional structures, built from 1793 to 1940. Or you can head up the hill for a hike through the public trails network. Catch your breath on one of the student-built benches and enjoy a breathtaking view of Mt. Ascutney before heading into the forest.
The King Farm abuts the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park and is approximately two miles from the Billings Farm and Museum entrance. The King Farm is linked to the National Historic Park by skiing and hiking trails.
Maples form a beautiful canopy over the King Farm Road as it leads up to the farmstead. The original portion of the King farmhouse faces a tree-lined lane that was once a through road to the Prosper Road.
The main block of the farmhouse was built in 1793 and remodeled in 1862. The rectangular ell was constructed in 1906 to replace an earlier ell.
Main Barn (c. 1793 with c. 1908 additions)
Sheep Barn (c. 1840, with a 1930s addition)
Horse Barn (c. 1940)
Corn House/Granary (c. 1800)
Milk House (c. 1930, once the original carriage house, c. 1795; moved around 1908)
Ash House (c. 1795)
Ice House (c. 1908)
The Workshop (c. 1940 – a sugarhouse in the woods)
If you visit, please note that the buildings and farmstead aren’t open to the public as they are in use.
King Farm’s caretakers also live in the main farmhouse, in a renovated apartment. They raise beef cattle through a collaboration with the University of Vermont Extension. They also keep meat birds, laying hens, and a handful of goats.
The site is surrounded by pastures and hayfields and is shaded by several very large and mature maples.
If you bear northeast up the hill from the barns, you’ll find Poet’s Trail, which was created partnership with Vermont Youth Conservation Corps and the National Park Service.
This scenic hike will guide you through old fields and pastures, as well as the occasional sculpture, courtesy of the artists of Sculpturefest.
Continue up the hill, and you’ll reach a sun-drenched overlook that looks south toward Mt. Ascutney. But beware, if you stop too long to enjoy the stunning view, you may fall victim to the occasional opportunistic tick (be sure to wear repellant and do a check during warm months).
From here, you can head into the woods, which are dominated by hemlock and hardwoods.
Veer left, and the hardwoods eventually give way to a stand of red pines that was planted in 1930s.
Small streams cut their way through the woods and fields, requiring VLT to determine the best places for trail-crossings and the correct sizes for culverts.
A seepage forest (a type of wooded wetland) is an obstacle for recreational trails and timber harvesting, but a wonder of wildlife habitat, providing water year-round to turkeys, coyotes, fisher, deer, and others.
Vernal pools dot the landscape and host an ear-splitting wood frog and peeper chorus every spring. They also teach us about the out-sized habitat value they provide to their tiny inhabitants.
Eventually, the trail loops back around and comes out behind the farmstead from the west. Below, the road that takes you back to Woodstock until your next visit.
As the Lands Director, Ben oversees management of and programming on lands that we own in service to communities. He joined VLT in 2019 after fifteen years of working as an agricultural development educator and professor of soil science. Ben is the person to call if you have questions or ideas about the lands we own and programs we support there. When not out on VLT properties, you can find him on his home farm growing blueberries, building or fixing things, or blowing his trombone.Email