Posted May 12, 2023 at 12:06pm by Rasna Dhillon

Woods Market Garden on Rt. 7 is thriving with new farmers

Woman and man standing in front of farm stand with plant starts

Conservation helps Wulfkuhle family reopen beloved farm

Woods Market Garden has been a fixture in Rutland County for decades. In spring 2023, VLT helped farmers Dan and Elyse Wulfkuhle take over the farm after Jon Satz—long-time owner, farmer, and beloved community figure—passed away. The Wulfkuhles added conservation restrictions to ensure the farm will remain available to farmers, and conserved additional land. These conservation measures attracted state funding that made the farm purchase more affordable for the Wulfkuhles.

The Wulfkuhles have retained the business name and plan to run the farm as before, with a farmstand and a CSA. Wood’s Market Garden is now open for the season, daily from 10 am to 6 pm, selling hanging baskets, potted annuals, perennials and organic vegetable and herb starts, as well as local products.

“We feel incredibly lucky to have found and to now own this incredible farm,” said Dan Wulfkuhle. “We were looking for farmland for the past six years, and it was very difficult to find something we felt we could afford. VLT’s support, and the existing infrastructure and support for the business made us feel like we could swing this. Jon and Courtney Satz built a beautiful business and community, and we are really hoping to continue Jon’s legacy.

We’re delighted to support and celebrate a new chapter at this beloved local business,” said VLT’s Pamela Burlingame. “The community treasured what Jon and Courtney brought to the farm and there’s a buzz of excitement that Wood’s is open again.”

The main farm parcel was originally conserved with VLT in 2000, after Jon Satz bought the Wood Farm from former state representative Robert Wood and his wife, Sally. At the time, conservation funding helped Satz buy the farm.

The Satzes ran a successful organic vegetable and fruit operation at the farm for years. When Jon passed away in August 2021 after a long illness, the future of the farm became uncertain. While the 2000 conservation easement protected the land against development, it did not guarantee that the land would stay in farming.

Dan and Elyse Wulfkuhle, based in Washington state but originally from Massachusetts, had been looking for a farm in Vermont and were connected to Courtney Satz through a mutual friend. They bought the farm in December while working with VLT to enhance the conservation protections already in place.

“Finding affordable farmland is really hard and conservation can help. As land prices rise, these enhanced protections are increasingly important for future generations of farmers,” added VLT’s Burlingame.

In addition to the protected farmland, a large 79-acre area consisting of Jones Mill Pond, Jones Brook, a wetland known as Smalley Swamp and their wooded margins now has special protections for clean water, healthy soil and wildlife habitat.

The project was made possible with funding from the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board (VHCB) and an anonymous gift made in memory of Jon Satz.

Gus Seelig, Executive Director of VHCB, said, “Water quality protections for streams and wetlands apply to the conserved acreage—a standard that enhances wildlife habitat and maintains the important features of natural areas while also helping with flood resilience. VHCB is proud to support these conservation benefits and our Farm & Forest Viability Program funded business planning for Courtney Satz and the new owners. It’s great news that Woods Farm Market will again be providing produce, flowers and plants for the community.”     

The project also received business services from Land for Good and the Intervale Center. The Wulfkuhles worked closely with Land for Good on their financial plans, while Courtney Satz received guidance from the Intervale Center on the sale of the farm to the Wulfkuhles.