A Farmer’s Daughter Wedding in the Mettowee Valley
Uriell Proft grew up roaming the hills, gardens and fields of Someday Farm in East Dorset. The farm also served as classroom where her farmer mother, Scout Proft, homeschooled Uriell and her four brothers. Jeff Carlson was raised on his family’s dairy farm in western New York. So when they got engaged in December 2013, it seemed pretty obvious where to host this farmer’s daughter wedding.
“I don’t know how Mama managed to homeschool us while also running the farm,” Uriell reflects, “but she’s an incredibly strong and determined woman. Her passion for the land and the natural world infused all of us.”
Uriell and Jeff live in Breckenridge, Colorado, where Uriell works as a nutritionist and Jeff manages an outdoor gear store. When planning their wedding, they wanted to highlight the natural resources of the farm. Fortunately the Profts have lifelong local friends who arrange flowers, bake and cater. “Mama and her farmer friends grew and harvested all the food, and my brothers and Jeff’s family took care of all the other details. It seemed like the entire community contributed to this homegrown wedding!”
Community-Supported Weddings may just be the next big thing.
Uriell and Jeff were married on August 15 at the Old Gray Barn in Rupert. Alan Calfee, a forester and conservationist from Dorset, bought the property in 2000. He saw the barn’s beauty and the land’s historical significance to the Mettowee Valley and brought them back to life. The property faces west to the mountains, stretching across hillsides and open pastures at the end of a long dirt road.
The hand-hewn beams, open trusses, loft and chandeliers now exude a rustic elegance that suits any style wedding, country to formal, hay bales or antique lace. The private venue caters to Vermont families and hosts about a dozen weddings each year.
As a unique feature, the wedding couple “owns” the entire facility for four full days, Thursday to Sunday. Brenda Reed, the event coordinator, has a loft full of accents and decorations including lanterns, tiki torches, shepherds hooks, sap buckets, chalkboards, slates and tree discs. She also has a fire pit, umbrellas and lawn games. Brides can pick and choose any elements they wish to incorporate in their events.
That Saturday afternoon, the couple stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the meadow under an arbor. Uriell, a woodland nymph in a delicate crown of homegrown flowers, and Jeff, a well-groomed outdoorsman with a turkey feather and fish hook boutonniere and a knife sheathed on his belt. They uttered those two famous words and the party kicked into high gear.
Hadley Stock of Pink Boot Farm catered the wedding. “She was so easy to work with because she’s a farmer and values fresh-harvested products. She’s also ridiculously talented!” says Uriell. “Hadley’s mom was one of our farm’s original CSA shareholders back in the 1980s.”
Jeff adds, “We were so fortunate to have a bountiful selection of organic produce thanks to Someday Farm. We weren’t picky and gave Hadley freedom to create based on a loose plan. When I mentioned cupcakes, Hadley said she could do mini-cupcakes, so we decided to have some fun. Flourless chocolate with peanut butter frosting, lemon with lavender icing, and then two nods to Vermont—candied bacon on maple cake and apple cider doughnut with caramel frosting. Between those and Jan’s wedding cake, it was a dessert feast!”
Dinner was served on the “traveling plates,” a stack of unmatched plates that floral designer Anna Johansen and her girlfriends have accumulated over the years from their own weddings. The plate collection steadily increases and travels to other friends’ weddings, adding yet another layer of community.
Antlers and feathers were other earthy touches that arose from the farm. “My brothers love to hunt so we have lots of antlers around,” Uriell explains. “That lent a masculine element to balance the pastels. And since Someday Farm and Woodbury Gamebirds, my twin brother Eben’s business, raise thousands of birds, I wanted to add a few pheasant feathers in my flower crown and goose feathers in the aisle bouquets. My friend Colby Halligan collaborated with Anna and made the flower crowns for all the bridesmaids and me.”
ALL (FARM) HANDS ON DECK!
“Mama and her crew were focused on harvesting and organizing the food in addition to taking care of all the animals and farm stand. Our brothers and best friends were our “go to” team. In the last week, we all met at the kitchen table and divvied up tasks. They helped create an amazing party.”
Silas was the classic big brother and kept everyone on track. He also supplied the ’87 short-bed Chevy truck that transported the bridesmaids up the hill to the wedding. Jeff’s dad, brother Joe and Uriell’s best friend Gwen finished renovating the house porch. Earlier in the summer, Eben constructed a large marble outdoor fireplace at the home farm, and on Friday evening, he strung strands of white lights in front of the Gray Barn and transformed that area into a twinkling outdoor room. Luen, who works at two Napa Valley vineyards, selected all the wines and commandeered shuttle drivers for the wedding night. Lexy cleaned the house and maintained the kitchen. Anders crafted the tree discs and was master of random tasks. His girlfriend, Emily, played violin as the guests gathered and during cocktails. “Everyone contributed his or her unique talents,” says Uriell. “That definitely reduced my stress level.”
“It was a little intimidating at first that we had to totally prepare and decorate the Gray Barn. But thanks to Jeff’s family arriving early in the week to help, we survived! All of the extra behind-the-scenes work that they did (tying ribbons on 150 jars, putting batteries in lights, setting candles and tables) allowed Jeff and me to focus on everything else.”
“I’m so thankful we had Meigan Canfield, our photographer from Colorado, with us for so long. She lived at the farm those four days and got to know everyone really well. That helped her capture such personalized moments. And James Chandler, my brother’s best friend who knows the farm and all of us, added his own take on the wedding events. For me, it was important to have photographers I knew and trusted because I’m not a big fan of photos!”
On Sunday afternoon, everyone gathered back at the homestead in East Dorset for an outdoor brunch. “Mama’s friends contributed all the homemade quiches and salads, breads and desserts. That really gave our out-of-state friends a taste of what Someday Farm is all about. At the end, a bunch of us went to hit the rope swing and swim at Emerald Lake.”
On a farm, animals take precedence over almost anything and anyone. But on that magical weekend, even Cricket the Jersey cow knew not to upstage the newlyweds. She quietly delivered her calf on Sunday afternoon as the festivities wound down. And Scout let her son-in-law name the newest member of his farm family.
Hadley Stock Throws Down a Farm-Fresh Wedding Feast
Hadley and Mike Stock, owners of Pink Boot Farm in West Pawlet, know barbecue. They had a smoker custom-built for their own wedding in 2003 and have smoked more than 100,000 pounds of pig since then.
“Barbecue’s part of my southern heritage,” says Hadley. “Mom is from North Carolina, Dad from Alabama. Growing up, we split the year between the Gulf Coast of Alabama and Vermont. I credit my ‘foodiness’ to my parents. We’d have these enormous family feasts, and even in the midst of one, we’d be planning the next.”
When Hadley was in her 20s, she loved preparing massive dinner parties for and with friends. But it never occurred to her that she could cook full-time until she had kids. “That’s when I started to pay attention to the source of my food because it mattered what I was putting into my daughters.”
Hadley began making soup, stews and muffins for her friends and their kids, with product from her homestead garden. People convinced her to sell her prepared foods at farmers’ markets, which morphed into a soup CSA. Thus a catering business was born.
Hadley now owns Pink Boot Farm Store in Manchester. She prepares an eclectic range of dishes using locally farmed, raised and produced ingredients. Back at the farm, the couple raises 40 to 60 heritage breed pigs. Mike also runs a traditional wood-fired sugaring operation with 2,000 taps at Smokey House Center in Danby.
“Uri knew she wanted veggies from her farm and a whole pig. We batted around some ideas and then landed on ‘build your own tacos’—99% of the ingredients came from our friends’ farms.”
Hadley spent the week before the wedding canning and pickling the appetizers: dilly beans, jalapeños, onions, cukes, carrots, beets, summer squash and eggs. “We roasted the pig all Friday using charcoal we made ourselves, and we smoked a Someday Farm turkey as well. Uri’s twin, Eben, orchestrated the Vermont cheeseboard.”
“Come dinnertime, everyone came to the buffet line and created their own meal. I just stood behind the tables and kept the platters stocked. It was incredibly rewarding to collaborate with Uri and Jeff who appreciate farm-raised food. Every aspect of the wedding was so personal and creative.”
Appetizers: Pickled and fresh veggies, kale chips, baba ghanoush. Fried chicken livers, sliced smoked pheasant, homemade sausage. Vermont cheeseboard, bread and crackers.
“Build your own tacos”
Whole roasted pig and smoked turkey, shredded
Sauces: maple chipotle, chimichurri, eastern Carolina (vinegar and pepper)
Salsas: smoked salsa, pico de gallo, corn and black bean, fruit
Slaws: carrot and cucumber with lime and cilantro, cabbage with mayo
Black beans, rice, corn bread, potato salad
Mexican street corn with queso fresco, mayo, cilantro, lime, chili, salt
Roasted beets, potatoes, carrots
Mixed green salad with edible flower blossoms
AIRSTREAM ADDS A RETRO CHIC TOUCH
Hub Poelmann, whose catering business takes him all over Vermont, knew when he saw it that he had to have it. Four years ago he came across a 27-foot 1972 Overlander Airstream while traveling through Springfield, Vermont. The original owner was selling it as a camper but Hub had other ideas. He wanted to turn it into a rolling cocktail lounge, and for help he turned to his friend and master craftsman Richard Farley.
The Airstream trailer was introduced to the American traveler in the 1930s. Its distinctive rounded aluminum body was based on original designs by Hawley Bowlus, who had overseen construction of Charles Lindbergh’s history-making aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis.
“We took everything out,” Hub explains, “and then Richard designed and built the bar, the seating area and the cooling unit. Every part is custom made.” The bar top is made of a translucent material which is LED-lit from beneath. The LED lights on the ceiling gradually change colors over time. “We built out the inside using ash with a cherry trim,” says Richard. The flooring is Pergo slate and the built-in seating and barstools are upholstered in a warm red and black. Wendy Copp, a well-known artist in Burlington, painted the scenic mid-section sky. An 8-track tape deck gives a nod to a 1970s past.
Large enough to accommodate a dozen (or more) people inside, the refurbished Airstream is a big hit at parties and weddings. The bartender has ample room to serve guests both inside and outside. For Uri and Jeff’s wedding, Hub had several Vermont beers on tap.
Hub’s retro creation has proved to be so popular that he bought another Overlander last year and is in the process of turning it into a custom-designed food truck to sell well-made traditional fare that’s also reasonably priced.
JAN KELLEY, BAKER BY NIGHT
“I got into baking by mistake. I made the ugliest cake ever for my son’s first birthday, not that he noticed, and vowed never to do that again. The next year, I made him a frog cake. That launched my baking business.”
By day, Jan Kelley owns New Morning Natural Foods in Manchester. By night, she bakes. For a shopkeeper, that means between 8pm and 1am, or 3am and 8am. “Baking is the opposite of my day job. All day, I sell natural, healthy, organic foods. At night, I go home and play with butter and sugar!”
“I started baking for my kids and their friends. Parents saw my cakes at parties and word got out. My business grew one cake at a time. Friends would order one for a special occasion and kept returning. I don’t have a website, just a big photo album of all the cakes I’ve made over the years. People call me or find me at the store.”
“I love doing wedding cakes because it’s fun to be part of a joyful occasion. I do about 10 weddings a year. Simple flavors work best for weddings. Uri wanted a ‘naked cake,’ with filling between the layers but no frosting outside. She chose almond cake with almond filling.”
Jan has been baking for 25 years. She makes more than 100 cakes a year, including a truly decadent double-chocolate flourless cake. She uses as much local product as possible (Someday Farm eggs, of course) and can tailor the cake to meet special dietary needs such as gluten-free or vegan.
“Baking is my creative outlet, and icing is my medium!”
ANNA JOHANSEN—FLOWERS FOR FAMILY
“We share this land, my family and Someday Farm. Scout has been a second mom to me. Uri and I grew up together, practically in the same house, running through the woods and catching frogs at the pond.”
Anna grows the majority of her flowers in the garden across from her East Dorset home, just down the hill from the farm. She starts them from seed in the farm’s greenhouse in March and transplants them in late May when the soil has warmed.
“Anna’s Blooms” started in 2007 when she moved home from Boston. “I wanted to get back to the land. Scout handed me the flower aspect of the farm, sharing her intel with me on what grows well in our soil.”
Fresh-cut bouquets for a farm stand soon led to customized arrangements for private parties and weddings. In 2015, Anna arranged flowers for six weddings and seven private parties.
Flowers express the wedding couple—wild, formal, vintage, contemporary—and Anna happily incorporates unique touches. “I enjoy the challenge of fulfilling someone’s vision. Uri and I started planning in the winter 2014. We looked at seed catalogs and swapped pictures over e-mail and Pinterest of flowers that would be available in mid-August.”
“I harvest the flowers before sunup to ensure longest vase life. I do all the arranging here in the kitchen. My counters, tables and floors are filled with gorgeous bouquets, and the house smells wonderful!”
“Uri was great to work with because she had a clear vision but was also flexible, like when deer ate a row of flowers I planted specially for the wedding. Fortunately she grew up on a farm and understands Nature!”
Check out her Facebook page, Anna’s Blooms.