Our Response to COVID-19

Letter from President Alec Webb

March 16, 2021

Dear Friends and Supporters,

I’m writing to share my gratitude for your support of Shelburne Farms and to give an update on plans for 2021.

With you behind us, over the past twelve months, we accomplished the following: 

  • Adapted our professional learning programs for educators to deliver them online, increasing our capacity to reach a national and global audience. 
  • Continued to advocate for more equitable, local and healthy school meal programs through our farm to school partnerships.   
  • Strengthened community access to affordable, healthy local foods by participating in the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and supporting our local food shelves.  
  • Kept our walking trails open by donation as a source of respite for our community. 
  • Shifted our Inn kitchen and Farm Store operations to a successful curbside pickup program, offering local farm products and prepared foods.  
  • Successfully closed 2020’s $2.3M operating budget gap thanks to increased charitable support, stronger than expected farm product sales and guest house rentals, cost management, and government Covid relief funds. 

Amazingly, more than 1,900 donors helped us meet the year-end Robert W. Wilson Challenge, raising an additional $250,000 for Shelburne Farms during this challenging time.

Given the remaining uncertainty around the course of the pandemic, and the complexity of the Farm’s activities and operations, we have decided that once again we will not be opening many of our on-site programs and operations in 2021. This includes the Inn & restaurant, the Children’s Farmyard, public events, tours, and summer camp. We believe this is the safest and most fiscally responsible decision: We want to protect everyone’s health, and we can’t risk investing in starting up seasonal operations that would most likely not run at full capacity.  

We understand that this is very disappointing news, but this doesn’t mean the Farm is closed. Our education programs are being offered in new and creative ways online, our guest houses and walking trails remain open, and we are looking at additional innovative ideas for sharing our campus this summer. The rhythm of farm life here continues: we are milking cows at the dairy to make our delicious cheddar cheese, growing vegetables, fruits, and flowers in the Market Garden for our Farm Store, and boiling sap to make this year’s crop of maple syrup.  

We are working on how best to advance our strategic priorities as we come out of the pandemic —a more integrated and resilient Shelburne Farms of the future. As you review your charitable giving priorities for 2021, we hope the Farm will continue to be one of the nonprofits you support to make a difference in building a better future for all.

The trust and support of the Shelburne Farms community is carrying us through this difficult time. We are truly grateful to have you as a friend of the Farm. 

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Alec Webb
President


Reminder: If you have traveled from out of state and have not quarantined, or have had contact with someone who has COVID-19, please do not visit the Farm. 

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