Pease Farm is one of the last two working farms in this "bedroom community" near the state capitol of Montpelier.
Hosea Minott, originally from Greensboro, Vermont, came to Middlesex in 1826 and bought the parcel of land that was the original homestead. He married his second wife in 1841 and built the Pease farmhouse shortly thereafter. The farm was bought by the Senter family of East Montpelier late in the century, and five children were raised there.
In 1937 Gerald Pease, his older sisters Dorothy and Ellen, and their father Lester Pease, purchased the old Minott homestead. Lester Pease was a day laborer and Baptist preacher, whose wife died when Gerald was only 10. Scraping together the money for a down payment took all they had, as well as a co-sign from a shopkeeper at the local hardware store who knew they were as good as their word.
Ellen and Gerald Pease were both legally blind from birth, but Gerald's indomitable will and cheerful good nature made him a successful dairy farmer. Since he could not get a driver's license due to his eyesight, he drove his tractor where he needed to go, all over the farm and down the hill to the Shady Rill Baptist church, where he was a deacon. Neighbors took him on errands to town, and were promptly repaid when Gerald showed up on his tractor to snowblow their driveways, or help them split their firewood with his tractor-powered splitter. Once in a while, when the road got slippery, he even tugged them out of a ditch.
Gradually, as the other small dairy farms on Culver Hill went out of business, Gerald added on to the original acreage, and improved the farmland. His nickname was "Boulder Pease," because people said he would rather dig out a big boulder than come in for dinner (and Pease Farm has the boulders to prove it!)
The Peases sold their farm to Sarah Seidman and her husband Scott Harrower in 1987 and Sarah helped Gerald run the dairy until he quit milking due to heart trouble. Then he helped her transform the old barn and milking parlor into stabling for horses, and taught her all he could about running a farm. Gerald and his older sister Ellen lived in the farmhouse until their deaths, in 2003 and 2008 respectively. Pease Farm's beautiful pastures and hayfields were created and sustained in great measure by the steadfast stewardship of Gerald Pease and we honor him as our founder.
Today, Sarah Seidman runs the farm with the help of the neighbors, just as Gerald used to. They come to help put the bales on the wagon and stack them in the barn, and never ask for more than a glass of switchel and one of Gerald's old fashioned ginger cookies as pay. In return, the tractor is always available when they need a hand plowing, splitting wood, snowblowing, or--yup-getting out of a ditch.
In addition, Sarah has other paid helpers:
Pete Walbridge, who helped Gerald keep the equipment going for many years, is now Pease Farm's mechanical genius, revered for being able to get the baler working and keep all the tractors operating in good order. He also offers expert help in all areas of the farm operation.
Susan Mitchell is the Pease Farm barn manager. With a smile on her face, she welcomes visitors, teaches the little kids, and continues to educate her 9 year-old PMU rescue mare, Rumor Has It, a flashy Appaloosa with a mind of her own. She helps with haying, drives the tractor, and gives Sarah much needed breaks from full-time farming so she can indulge her not-so-secret passion for overseas travel.
Scott Harrower, Sarah's husband, is the principal of the North American Hockey Academy in Stowe. While his job keeps him busy, he works for the farm at haying time, as well as when unexpected fix-it jobs crop up that require use of his big orange Kubota. Their grown children, Corey Harrower and Mariah Harrower Carlsen, are the all-time champions at haying and provide help at crucial moments--Mariah throwing bales with one-year-old Aliyah in a backpack on her back!
Steve, Sarah and Melanie Slatter, Andrea Levesque, Beth Holtzman, and Sue McCain are any farm's dream boarders; they not only pay on time but pitch in to help with anything from bringing in horses to lugging the hay elevator.
The loyal help over the years of across-the-road neighbors Mark and Jessica Chaplin is in a category all its own. Sarah couldn’t keep the farm going without them. Next-door neighbors Deb and Bob Prescott, Rick, Emma Rose and Sue Paradis, Dave Gardner, and Mike and Telma Patterson all help keep Pease Farm alive and well.