2023 Sustainable Woodstock Highlights

By Jenevra Wetmore

A sampling of harvests from Sustainable Woodstock’s Community Garden at Billings Farm that were donated to the Woodstock Community Food Shelf. Photo by Amy Wheeler/Sustainable Woodstock.

We at Sustainable Woodstock (SW) hope that you and yours are well and in good spirits. This has been an especially challenging year, from wildfire smoke to catastrophic flooding, yet these challenges have revealed opportunities to make our communities stronger. I have found myself wavering between deep grief as well as heartfelt gratitude for the ways in which individuals and organizations have stepped up to meet the need through these challenges–we are resilient.

With the help of our partners, donors, and volunteers, SW accomplished an immense and diverse array of work this year, from emergency flood response and weatherization to feeding hundreds through our community gardens and Grow Your Own Garden Program. To make this possible, we have grown considerably over the past two years, transitioning SW’s Executive Director and Program Director into full-time positions, and allowing us to expand the breadth and depth of our programs and initiatives. This increase in capacity represents a major, long-term commitment to ensuring the longevity of our food security and low-income weatherization initiatives to help families in need. The following highlights illustrate the ways in which we are working to make our communities and environment resilient in the face of climate change.

2023 Highlights

Climate Change Leadership: Producing and partnering on numerous public programs, student and community actions, films, articles, solar energy projects, energy conservation and transportation initiatives and programs, including a Regional Climate Action Plan to curb carbon emissions and mitigate global warming. Leading a town-wide effort to make energy upgrades to municipal buildings, estimated to reduce town carbon emissions by 12.5%.

Sustainability Opportunities for All: Working with partners to offer income-sensitive grants for households to implement energy-savings projects, including weatherization and heat pump installation. In 2023 we completed our second year constructing free Window Dressers inserts for low-income families: 

“I must tell you that those inserts made a profound quality of life impact! It was so toasty warm inside, and our fuel consumption is way down.” —Recipient of free insulating storm windows

Flood Response: Building relationships and responding to emergent community needs. In the wake of the historic July 2023 flood, SW mobilized volunteers to remove damaged skirting and insulation from flooded homes at Riverside Mobile Home Park and clean mud and debris left behind. SW raised nearly $70,000 to replace skirting on 12 homes with insulated skirting at no cost to residents, which will keep moisture out in the summer and retain warmth in the winter. This project is made possible with funding from: Upper Valley Strong, The Vermont Community Foundation, and the Woodstock Community Trust.

Energy & Transportation Action Group: Collaborating with the Town and Village of Woodstock and the Intermunicipal Regional Energy Coordinator (IREC/Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission) to design and retrofit buildings to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions at considerable savings to Woodstock residents.

  • Electric Lawn Care: Bringing the Upper Valley’s first all-electric lawn care contractor to Woodstock.  
  • Renewable Energy for All: Promoting the means to make renewable energy affordable for everyone. Partnering with Norwich Solar Technologies, Twin Pines Housing, SEVCA and IREC to plan for building a solar array for low- to moderate-income households. 
  • eBike Trials: Provided almost 80 free public eBike trials (to date) to promote low-impact transportation, in partnership with Vital Communities, Local Motion, Norman Williams Public Library and St. James Church.

Education: Fostering sustainable lives & systems through monthly Green Drinks programs, weekly Vermont Standard columns, outreach to schools.

Film Series: Celebrating the 5th year of partnering with Pentangle Artson monthly screenings of our Upper Valley Climate Change & Sustainability Film Series—with attendance of over 7,500 people (to date)  from  the Upper Valley and beyond, with generous support from underwriters Mascoma Bank & Vermont Community Foundation, and sponsors Mark D. Knott DDS, Ellaway Property Services, Unicorn and Yankee Bookshop

Bridgewater Community Center & Childcare Center: SW is in the fifth year of helping to transform the Bridgewater Community Center into a resilient, sustainable hub. SW spearheaded a successful $100,000 grant from the State of Vermont and National Park Service to restore and weatherize historic windows and install new storm windows throughout, and we co-authored a successful $75,000 grant from the Canaday Family Charitable Trust to install energy-efficient systems throughout. The building now houses two new classrooms and a public meeting space.

Advocacy: SW advocates on the local, regional, and statewide level for sustainability and community benefits, ranging from net-zero energy systems for the new Woodstock Union High School to quiet and efficient alternatives to leaf blowers.

Food Security: Helping to meet the crucial need for sustenance as the root of sustainability for individuals and families. SW expanded our Billings Farm and King Farm community gardens by 30%, doubled our Community Garden Coordinator’s hours and planted 800 square feet of food security plots. We have delivered over 100 pounds of produce to the Woodstock Community Food Shelf this season. Our GROW YOUR OWN GARDEN project has created 300 beginner GROW YOUR OWN GARDEN kits that were distributed free to low-income households—feeding over 600 people. In 2022 and 2023 we funded raised garden beds at Woodstock’s Riverside Mobile Home Park.

Conservation: Leveraging $280,000 from the VT Agency of Natural Resources for the Town and Village of Woodstock to implement natural resource projects. Procuring a grant for buffer restoration along Barnard Brook. Initiated an ongoing project—in partnership with the Connecticut River Conservancy, Woodstock Resort and ANR—to remove the three remaining dams restricting fish passage along Kedron Brook.

We are deeply grateful for the energy, enthusiasm, and hard work of our dedicated volunteers, and for supporters like you—the lifeblood of Sustainable Woodstock—who make it all possible! Your support enables us to address these inequities at a grassroots level to empower a sustainable community, environment, and economy for all.


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