The Windham Foundation in Grafton, Vermont
As I mentioned in the last post, we had a delightful family time in Grafton, Vermont, a locale that really epitomizes that part of New England. However, a casual drive through central Vermont reveals the challenges of making a go of it, given the problems facing the dairy industry and agriculture more generally. The cost of producing a quart of milk in Vermont is now greater than the price that quart will bring on the open market. On the other hand, this is the type of situation that really calls for some creative thinking. There’s something very valuable here as everyone knows who has given the area any thought. A substantial amount of the land in Grafton (I don’t know how much) is actually owned by the not for profit Windham Foundation. There mission is to “promote the vitality of Grafton and Vermont’s rural communiities through philanthropic and education programs and it’s subsidiaries. The Foundation owns several significant businesses, including my favorite, the Grafton Village Cheese Company. (Disclaimer, I have no financial interest here, though I do love to eat their cheese.) This is a working farm, integrated with their cheese factory. They also own the Old Tavern Inn as well as the land on which several independent businesses sit. This is an organization that builds on both philanthropic and business activities in order to support the preservation of rural life in Vermont. If you’d like to know more hit the links above, but suffice it to say that I applaud their efforts to think outside the box. Click for a better view.
Interestingly, the Foundation was founded by an investment banker, Dean Mathey who had family ties to the region. Here’s to creative leadership and creative experimentation. That’s the way ahead.