By Kevin Gaiss. Published by WCAX3 on 2/11/2022. (Follow link for video)
Plush cow sale aims to help save Stowe Farm
STOWE, Vt. (WCAX) - A stampede of cute handmade cows is taking over Central Vermont, trying to save farmland for years to come.
“Each one starts with just a swatch of fabric,” said Renee Mitchell with the Current.
A little bit of love and a lesson in sewing for second- and third-graders meant a herd of cows taking up residence in downtown Stowe.
“Each one has its own unique personality,” said Mitchell.
The Current is a contemporary arts and education organization.
Mitchell started teaching about climate change and conservation in her winter youth education classes. These bovine beauties are upcycled, using donated and scrap material gifted to the Current.
“You know, finding a little button or sewing on a button,” said Mitchell.
Her students are in love with their new cow companions, but Mitchell felt a movement brewing.
“Thinking globally, acting locally,” said Mitchell.
Her lessons in conservation stewardship and social responsibility could be put to practice and right up the road.
“And then it just sort of hit me, oh, cows, the dairy farm,” said Mitchell.
A former dairy farm called a gateway into Stowe, Ricketson Farm is looking for new life. The Stowe Land Trust is looking to step in.
“The farm could be lost if the community didn’t step up to help out to conserve it and ensure that the land stay open and available for agriculture going forward,” said Kristen Sharpless, the executive director of the Stowe Land Trust.
Sharpless says the 217-acre farm isn’t cheap to conserve, $2.5 million is needed.
State and federal funding will cover about half and Stowe will vote on Town Meeting Day to pitch in $200,000 worked into their budget.
About 400 donors and the farmer himself have made contributions, but the last push is community-centered.
“They are emblematic to me of the possibilities, you know, what comes next,” said Sharpless.
Sharpless sees a bright future for the conserved property, with a community-first approach.
“It could be used for lost of different types of farming and growing food and producing things that are valuable for the community,” said Sharpless.
And while the stuffed herd is thinning as these cows find new pastures, Mitchell says you can be ensured they will never look like your standard Jersey or Holstein, nor will they have a twin.
“Every cow is unique and no two cows will ever be the same,” said Mitchell.
And while the cash cows bring in the cheddar, the students and their families creating them get to feel pretty good, too.
“Just a tremendous feeling of satisfaction and feeling like they can make a difference,” said Mitchell.
They say the herds they create go quickly.
“They are also going to come back over February vacation week and help me to teach a family workshop on how to make the cows and folks can make either a small donation or they can just come and make cows and donate those cows to the cause and help fill the orders we have had a stampede of orders,” said Mitchell.
At least $25 donated can land you one of the bovine beauties. You can buy them online here or at the Current.
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