The Lemax Farm is one of the last active dairy operations in Hartland, Vermont. The farm’s large, yellow barns appear suddenly as you drive south on Route 5 where the Ottauquechee meets the Connecticut River. The barns serve as a welcome into North Hartland, and as a reminder of our agricultural past and present.
In 2014, a group of Hartland residents came together to repair and restore the big yellow barns at the Lemax Farm and asked UVLT to serve as the fiscal sponsor for a local fundraising campaign. The partnership made sense, as years before UVLT had conserved the farm’s hundreds of acres of river bottom farm land and forest. While the land was protected, the maintenance of the huge old farm buildings was tough. The historic buildings didn’t fall under UVLT’s preview for protection, but we were happy to assist the Friends of Lemax Farm community group by processing the contributions to restore the buildings.
Over the last seven years the group has raised funds to fix rotting sills, sagging timbers, and peeling paint of the landmark barn. The Lemax barns are an important symbol of Vermont’s agricultural history with the oldest of the bright yellow barns, the English style barn, dating back to the 1790. The four story bank barn with the high drive was built in 1890. The barns are so striking that in 1938 WPA photographer Arthur Rothstein captured them on film and later reprinted them in his 1970 photo book.
While the restoration is complete, the farm’s history is ongoing. The name of the farm refers to Lesle Maxfield, who moved his growing family off their small Tunbridge farm to this bigger one in 1947. The farm is still called Lemax, but the Meacham family has been working the dairy farm for the last 30 years. In addition to running a full time dairy operation, the Meacham’s help run Hartland’s vibrant Farm-to-School program, which brings fresh local meat and produce to Hartland Elementary School’s cafeteria and teaches kids about local food. You can often find Hartland kids planting seeds or milking cows at Lemax Farm.