For 30+ years, Wildstone Farm has provided healthy, organic food to the local community
John and Joy Primmer came to Pownal, Vermont from nearby Williamstown, MA, in 1984. They started Wildstone Farm high up in the southern Green Mountains, and never looked back.
They’ve been fixtures at the Bennington Farmers’ Market since its founding 20 years ago, in which they played a part. Their organic-certified farm-fresh veggies and eggs have nourished southern Bennington County for decades.
This summer the Primmers celebrated their 33rd year growing vegetables, tending the land, and selling produce to the local community. And this fall they conserved their Pownal farm with us to protect it from development.
Pioneering organic farmers
Joy and John started their homestead in 1984 with their seven-year-old child. When they were approached by a local food cooperative to sell their extra produce, they up-scaled and evolved into a commercial operation.
In 1989, they were certified organic by NOFA’s Vermont Organic Farmers program, the first farm to be certified in Bennington County. In 2020, Wildstone Farm became Real Organic Project certified.
“They’re pioneers in the organic movement” says VLT’s Donald Campbell who worked with the Primmers on the farm’s conservation. “Theirs is one of a handful of mid-sized vegetable farms that produce the bulk of locally grown vegetables in southern Bennington County.”
Local food for the community
After some years of selling wholesale, they began to sell directly to the community – at the Bennington Farmers’ Market as well as through a CSA and a spring plant sale on the farm. “We felt much better selling directly,” says Joy. “The friendship of our customers has meant a lot to us. We’re very grateful to them for being with us all this time.”
In the 2022 growing season, they offered 11 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, sweet Italian peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, yellow summer squash, zucchini, a host of herbs, and many beloved annual flowers during their spring plant sale. They also sell their organic seed garlic via mail order, shipping orders throughout the East Coast and once to Alaska!
Protecting Wildstone Farm and the land
The farm sits at 1,400 feet on a terrace on the side of The Dome, the southernmost mountain in the Green Mountain chain. Ample access to water, good solar exposure, and productive soils have enabled John and Joy to grow quality produce.
The Primmers’ land was once part of a larger farm. They bought their 20+ acres and, over the years, watched as houses sprang up on subdivisions on the surrounding land. “There are many more houses here than there were then,” says Joy. “The way the economy and the housing market is now, that’s what would happen if we didn’t protect our farm.”
“Part of our farmland protection work is to conserve the land used by critical farm businesses across Vermont,” says Donald, “and support farm viability and farmers’ care for the land. We’re delighted that Wildstone Farm is protected – for local food, for the community, and for the future of farming in our state.”
Asked if she had a favorite product or part of farming, Joy says “This farm is our life. It’s like your children – I can’t say I have a favorite. It’s the work itself. The work is very satisfying, and that’s an understatement.”
To learn more, visit their website and check out this Q&A on the Bennington Farmers’ Market site.