'Growing Food, Growing Farmers': Alchemy Gardens In Shrewsbury

Dec 8, 2016

Eight years ago, Lindsay and Scott Courcelle started a market garden of vegetables, herbs and flowers in Shrewsbury. Now, their venture has grown into Alchemy Gardens.

They managed hurdles and successes as young farmers, and along the way, they had help and mentorship from West Rutland farmer Greg Cox.

The Courcelles told their story of farming to the Vermont Folklife Center as part of the "Growing Food, Growing Farmers" series, which is focused on the Rutland County agricultural community.

Getting started

"We met teaching ecology at an environmental education center in Maine, and we moved to Montpelier and decided to get a community garden plot," Lindsay says. "Scott totally fell in love with gardening and I did too. And from there, we thought we'd see what it would be like to be farmers."

The next year, the couple apprenticed in Benson at Foggy Meadow Farm.

"We just learned an amazing amount about vegetable production, how to manage a business, going to market, those sorts of things," Lindsay says. "And the following year, we decided to just get started on our own, doing our own vegetable enterprise."

"Scott totally fell in love with gardening and I did too. And from there, we thought we'd see what it would be like to be farmers." — Lindsay Courcelle, co-owner of Alchemy Gardens

Scott echoes that timeline of starting their farm following the completion of their six-month apprenticeship.

"To go from that experience to being at the market the following year, I think is a pretty quick sort of turnaround," Scott says. "And that was mostly because it was made available to us by Greg Cox.

"And making farmland and equipment and wash area and all those ... expensive things that can be a barrier to new and young farmers — all of those were made available to us, so it made a very easy transition to go from working for someone else to starting our own farm."

Current happenings

Scott provided an overview of Alchemy Gardens' operational equipment and setup, first mentioning their two propagation greenhouses.

"We also have ... our packing shed, our walk-in cooler and our wash area, and all that sort of stuff, right on site here," Scott explains. "A couple propagation houses where we start all of our plants early in the spring and then we cure some of our crops, like onions and garlic and squash — that sort of thing."

He adds that they have a West Rutland garden, as well.

Lindsay says that she's noticed a number of people in Shrewsbury beginning their own farming enterprises in recent years.

"We're all cooperating with each other, and everyone, I feel like, really respects each other and wants each other to succeed," she says.

Looking ahead

"There's a lot happening in Rutland to be excited about, and now we're going to be having these refugee families settling here, which is very exciting," Scott says. "And the agricultural scene in Rutland has so much going on, and with Greg's vision with the [Vermont Farmers] Food Center, there's ... great potential."

"The agricultural scene in Rutland has so much going on." — Scott Courcelle, co-owner of Alchemy Gardens

"And so I think it's moving in the right direction, and that's part of the reason that we moved back here was to [try to] do what we could, because it often has such a bad reputation around the state," Scott says. "So yeah, just for people around the state to know that really good things are happening in Rutland and not to just cringe every time you hear the word."

This recording is part of a project developed by the Vermont Folklife Center with support from the Archie Green Fellowship. As part of a collaboration with the Vermont Folklife Center, Vermont Edition will be airing conversations from this "Growing Food, Growing Farmers" series each month. Learn more about the Vermont Folklife Center project here.