Vermont restaurant owners love to name the origins of food on their menus – Trillium Hill Farm Lettuce, Pomykala Farm Squash, Half Pint Farm Carrots, Misty Knoll Farms Chicken Wings, Pigasus Meats Bacon Chunks, Adam’s Berry Farm Raspberries.
But why settle for farm-to-table when the farm is closedwith-table is an option? As farmers seek to diversify their offerings – and offset the reduction in pandemic-era sales to some of these farm-to-table restaurants – more and more are cooking meals right on the farm.
Lazy breeze farm is a Waltham Cattle Farm nestled between Highway 7 and the grounds of Addison County Fair and Country Days. In May, the Newton family opened a food truck on the farm for customers to sample the produce. And, boy, I was glad they did when I pulled up on a recent Sunday afternoon.
The farm announces its presence with a large historic red barn, which holds the courtyard to the rear of the property. Once I stopped gawking at its ladder – at least two stories high, topped with a cupola – I was able to focus on what we were there for: a bright blue bus that the Newtons dubbed the Burger Buggy.
Brent and Diana Newton bought the farm on Burnham Road in August 2020 – they live on an adjacent plot down the road – and have been renovating the property and expanding their business model ever since. As impressive as the old barn was, it was more of a bonus than a deciding factor.
âA lot of people would have bought this property just for this part, and it really wasn’t that for us,â said Diana, 49. The couple needed a functional shelter to house their growing herd of grass-fed beef. cows during the winter, and the property also has a more modern barn which fits perfectly. They tackled this building first, renovating it inside and out and adding a new water supply system, open water supply areas and fresh green siding.
The Newtons had their first cows about four years ago. “My step-dad [Craig Newton] and my husband thought it would be great to look out the window and see cows, âsaid Diana. They started with seven Red Angus, planning to raise them to feed their families.
âThen Brent decided to go into the beef business, and it grew really quickly,â she added with a laugh.
Now, Lazy Breeze sells cuts of beef – from brisket and ribs to hamburger and strip loin steak – direct from the farm. The herd has 142 cattle, mostly American Aberdeen Lowline Angus with a few mixed Red Angus and Herefords – and two Wagyu bulls.
âWe researched and read that the Wagyu-Aberdeen Angus blend was very popular, and good not only for taste and quality, but also for the marbling of the meat,â Diana explained.
The idea for the Burger Buggy came to Brent, 51, one morning in March over coffee.
âWe were just playing on our phones, and he said to me, ‘You know, it would be a good idea if people could taste the meat to find out how good it is,â Diana recalls. “I looked at him like, ‘Yeah. Whatever, honey.'”
Brent suggested a food truck with a simple menu of burgers and fries. Once again, Diana said, “Yeah. Whatever, honey.” Ten minutes later, he showed her a food truck on Craigslist.
âAll of a sudden, I went from ‘Yeah, honey’ to a lot more attention,â she said, laughing heartily.
The Burger Buggy opened its doors a few months later on Mother’s Day weekend. The couple’s son, Alex, 28, is the cook. Brent and Alex are both former Addison County Sheriffs – Brent a Captain and Alex a Deputy.
âAlex was looking for something new and he was helping out on the farm,â Diana said. “He always really wanted to cook, so he agreed to do it and started researching how to make amazing fries.”
It had been a while since I had been surprised by a fries. But Alex’s fries from the Burger Buggy caught me off guard in more ways than one. They are hand cut, blanched and then fried twice, to achieve the ideal balance of crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They’re also one-size-fits-all, sitting in a satisfying spot between a regular fry and a wedge of potato.
âI learned how to create them on YouTube,â Alex said.
I guess if you can learn how to build a house by watching YouTube videos, how about French fries?
My first bites of excellent fries were a good sign of things to come. They were part of my fondue galette meal ($ 12), which also came with a drink. The melted patty itself was a gooey delight – essentially a burger patty inside a grilled cheese, as Diana explained. I opted for the cheddar, adding pickles from the list of toppings included at no extra cost.
Two of my meal mates ordered the Big Bull Burger ($ 12; $ 15 for a meal), which is a double patty. The burgers were serious and the satisfied silence in the spacious tent we were seated in was only interrupted by occasional “yum” and “man this is so good”.
The menu also includes smaller burgers; cheese steaks with sautÃ©ed onions, peppers and mushrooms; cheese fries; and poutine. Diana helps with specialties here and there, she said, including the brisket and ribs with mac and cheese. The day we visited, the special was a steak dinner ($ 22) with a choice of sides.
We had a vegetarian with us – probably not the best customer for a beef farm food truck. But she happily ate grilled cheese and fries before wandering off to befriend Thaddeus, the farm’s bottle-fed veal. Led by Brent, he strolled around as we stuffed our faces with burgers.
Everything at Burger Buggy is made to order, so we had time to commune with the farm goats, alpacas and pigs while we waited for our food. With a swing to play and animals to pet, the farm offers a family experience even when Newtons are busy. For those who prefer not to linger, pre-ordering and take-out are also available.
âAlex said to me, ‘Mom, this is a food truck. Either you have fast food or you eat good food,â Diana said. “It’s amazing to see all of these families come into a relaxed farmhouse type environment and just relax and enjoy the atmosphere.”
The Newtons are renovating their historic 100-by-48-foot, two-and-a-half-storey barn, which was built in 1878 by Harry Everts to house his dairy farm, according to the Vermont State Register of Historic Places. It has not been used regularly since the 1970s. Last winter, the Newtons added interior stairs, repaired the skylight – which was in danger of collapsing – cleared nearly a foot of hay from the ground floor. -shoe and have added interior supports. A complete renovation will be a long process, but they are ready to tackle it.
âIt’s such an important part of Vermont history,â said Diana.
The next step in the evolution of Lazy Breeze is a covered patio, which will create more seating options and extend the Burger Buggy season. Right now, the Newtons plan to keep the truck open for as long as time permits. They are working to obtain a license to sell beer and wine. Next year, they hope to expand the truck with a larger kitchen, which will also allow them to expand the menu.
âI know I should tell you that the most rewarding part is seeing him busy or selling our meat because we’re in business to make money someday,â Diana said. “But the coolest thing is meeting my neighbors and hearing all kinds of stories, all kinds of stories, from people who have watched the farm over the years.”
With burgers and fries as good as Newtons, even more people will be watching Lazy Breeze Farm as it heads to its next chapter.
Dining Out is a series that explores the best al fresco in Vermont. Follow it this summer as we showcase restaurant terraces, patios and picnic tables that bring new meaning to dining.