Holiday Traditions on The Farm: Conant’s Riverside Farm
In the idyllic small town of Richmond, Vermont, tucked alongside the Winooski River, you’ll find Conant’s Riverside Farm. Since 1854, this historic sixth-generation dairy farm has been rich in tradition and love for the land.
A proud farm member of the Cabot Cooperative, the sprawling 1000-acre farm is under the care of fifth-generation David Conant and his sixth-generation son, Ransom. Together, David and Ransom run the operation alongside a team of dedicated employees. Ransom and his wife Alison live on the farm with their kids, the seventh generation to grow up there. Together, they continuously honor and reflect on all the generations that have come before them, but there is something incredibly nostalgic about the holiday season on the farm.
As the cold, snowy Vermont winter begins to blanket Conant’s Riverside Farm, we caught up with Alison to learn more about the enchanting holiday traditions at the farm and how they are carrying the family’s legacy forward for generations to come.
What is farm life like this time of the year, what happens during these cold winter months?
Cows need care 365 days a year, so it's always busy on the farm, no matter what time of year it is. But of course in winter, the field work stops. We are not growing or harvesting any crops. It is a good time to catch up on maintenance, and to focus on business planning and the year ahead. We always hope for lots of snow—it makes everything look magical.
How do you celebrate the holidays on the farm?
Family, food, and lots of cheer! Everyone is welcome here at the farm. My Kosakowski family comes up from New Jersey to join in for the Conant family celebrations. We get together on Christmas Eve, either at our house or at my sister-in-law’s. And on Christmas night my mother-in-law makes a big dinner. It's such a wonderful time of year.
Do you have any favorite holiday memories on the farm? Any holiday family traditions or recipes that have been passed down over the generations?
Too many to count. But there is nothing better than waking up on Christmas morning to open presents with our kids. They are so excited!
For holiday entertaining, my go-tos are cheese cake, chocolate cake, and gingerbread cookies. I like to bake gingerbread from scratch and make elaborate houses with my kids. My grandmother made gingerbread houses when I was little and I always thought they were so magical, like in a fairytale.
Are there specific crops or products from the farm that you incorporate into your holiday celebrations?
We eat so much cheese, butter, sour cream...all the Cabot products. We always make a special trip to the Cabot Annex this time of year to stock up on cheese and ingredients for holiday meals, and for gift-giving.
Who runs the farm these days? How do you honor the generations before you?
My husband, Ransom, and his father, David, run the operation, alongside a wonderful team of dedicated employees. My mother-in-law, Deb, manages the books. My kids are the seventh generation to grow up here, and we spend a lot of time talking about our relatives, and the sacrifices they made across the generations to keep the farm going.
This summer, we welcomed almost 100 family members from all over the country (and abroad!) back to the farm for a family reunion. It was very moving to see how much the farm means to them, despite living far away. This farm will always be the heart of the Conant family.
A heartfelt thank you to Alison and the entire Conant family for graciously sharing the rich history of their farm and family traditions. If you ever find yourself near quaint Richmond, Vermont, be sure to visit the farm where they sell farm-grown sweet corn, pumpkins, squash, and flowers when in season. In every visit to Conant's Riverside Farm, whether in person or through the stories shared here, one can't help but feel the timeless allure of this historic farm and the legacy it continues to build for generations to come.