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Gardening… Zen… and Simple Pleasures

October 2, 2013 in Art, Farm & Agriculture by Jen

Sometimes we stumble across things that give us pause in our daily rush to “do”. These moments are treasures- a chance to take a deep breath, reflect, and embrace whatever is laying there, ready to be found. I always feel so fortunate when I stumble on simple, unintentional moments, like this one, found in a few simple lines shared by a friend reflecting on her own found moments in the garden.

Gardening has become my Kung fu…
Sometimes I go out there and just sit,

bees thrumming around my head,

toes in the dirt,

tasting the last wisps of summer

in a cherry tomato that I discover hiding behind over-grown mustard leaves.

I could spend all day in that beautiful organized chaos.

The kids roam in and out,

finding bugs to ogle and

tidbits to munch,

dried bean pods

to exhume like mummies,

and every discovery

leads to more questions –

what’s this plant?

What made this hole?

Can I eat this?

It’s just soul-satisfying, a connection to all things green and growing,

to a cycle of time that runs deeper and slower and far more intricately than anything else.

And yeah, it’s yummy.

– by Kelly Stettner

Raised bed beginning. Kelly S

Humble beginnings

Garden after 1 month- Kelly S.

And one month later, this has become a LUSH jungle! The broccoli is four feet high, the gourds have thoroughly taken over the cucumber patch, and I never did find the zucchini under all those cherry tomatoes.

Garden photo by Kelly S.Gourds on Trellis - K. Stettner Garden photo by K.S.








Armando helps harvest sunflowers. K. Stettner

Bird Prints on tarp in the Garden. - K. StettnerSpider and web in the garden by Kelly S.

American Toad in the Garden - K. Stettner

Fall Harvest- Kelly S.

~The best harvest is the smile~

 All photos courtesy of Kelly Stettner.

Do you have a gardening, simple pleasure or reflective moment you’d like to share? Please email us at or post on our Facebook page:


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The Perkins’: Building a Family Business and a Dream

July 25, 2013 in Community Development, Stories by Jen

Danny and Debbie Perkins spent most of their careers in upstate New York, but always dreamed of living in Vermont. Debbie spent years running delis and mastering flavor combinations and cooking techniques. Danny worked at the same furniture company for 22 years before the fallout from the real estate bust changed that.  Together, Danny and Debbie decided to take that change as an opportunity to pursue their dreams.

Perkins Deli

Danny, Debbie and Chris Perkins

Building a Dream

Danny grew up visiting his family’s cabin in Southeastern Vermont. He loved the area and passed that love to his wife and son, Chris. Taking everything they had, they moved to the area and began to create their vision of bringing great deli flavors, home-style food, with a cozy, comfortable  space to a small community.

Today you can find Danny, Debbie, and Chris celebrating their one year anniversary at The Perkins Country Deli (20 Valley Street) in downtown Springfield. Alongside their deli meats and cheeses, they offer homemade specials from lasagna and meatball subs to pizza and classics such as tuna salad or egg salad. They post regular updates on their Facebook page and the reviews there are fabulous.

Community Feedback

According to Danny, it is the customer comments and reviews that are the most satisfying this first year. The community has been very supportive, but not everyone knows about them yet. Tucked away just out of sight of Main Street, they can be hard to spot and haven’t had much to invest in advertising. Fortunately, word of mouth is spreading and customers using the bank parking lot are sent directly past the storefront.

They  hope to soon be able to expand their hours (currently open 8 – 4 M-F and 8 – 2 Saturday). Sandwiches and meals are prepared in a clean, sunny, and open area. Being able to see everything that happens behind the counter was an important element for Debbie. It makes sense. If you’re going to spend time preparing things from scratch, you want people to see and experience as much of that as possible.

Perkins Deli Counter

Deli Counter

Fresh, quality ingredients were amongst the other  ‘must haves’ on Debbie’s list. That is why all the produce comes from Black River Produce, which Danny says is sourced from local farms and, although a little pricier than some options, the quality can’t be beat. They also support other local businesses. Heaven Scent Bakery supplies all their fresh pizza dough which Debbie works to perfection for every pie they make, topping it with fresh homemade tomato sauce- no frozen or canned short-cuts here.

Pursuing Passions

Debbie isn’t the only one with cooking talents. Their son Chris makes a sweet/ spicy hotdog sauce that gets rave reviews. And the talent doesn’t end there. Debbie creates one of a kind gifts such as dolls and scarves.  Although Chris is helping out at the deli, he also has a degree in graphic arts which is a fortunate thing for the Deli and anyone passing by.  The stunning sign and artwork that adorns the deli was all done by Chris.

Chris says that he was inspired by the architecture of the downtown buildings and wanted to showcase the beauty that surrounds their new location. As you can see, he captured that and something more in his art- perhaps even a little piece of the Springfield soul.

Sign and artwork by Christopher Perkins

Sign and artwork by Christopher Perkins

The Future

The pride in Danny’s voice is obvious when he talks about his son’s and wife’s talents. I suspect he may have some of his own, but he was far more interested in talking about them.

They hope in the next few years to be making even more people happy with their food- to be able to purchase their building and expand the inside seating. It’s not a ‘take over the world’ kind of dream. It’s the kind of dream and commitment our country was built on and that we may need a little more of: enough to live a full, happy life doing what you love with people you care about in a place that feels good.

Daniel and Christopher Perkins outside deli

Daniel and Chris check out the sign Chris made for the deli

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Beautification Efforts Underway- Call for Volunteers

July 19, 2013 in Art, Community Development, Ideas & Projects, Stories by Jen

As  I was heading up to The Commons to see the special Community Band performance Tuesday night, I noticed a group of people on Mineral Street painting the cement retaining wall.

They didn’t appear to be vandals, so I stopped to check out what they were up to.

The Mural

There I met Mona Frye (pictured below) who told me about the mural project. What started out as a project of the Community School of Vermont has expanded to a community-wide effort. Funding has been provided by a number of area businesses and organizations.

Springfield mural flags

The large mural forming tells the story of Springfield. It seems fitting that the Vermont State Flag and the US Flag anchor the mural around the corner.

As you turn, you can see symbols and landmarks from Springfield emerging. The Calvary Baptist Church welcomes visitors at one end and towards the center, the Miller Art Center hovers majestically above the town.

Flowers adorn the bottom, mixing with a splash of colorful live foliage. I was told there is a large “Springfield” sign that will be added to the center of the mural when everything else is complete.

Appropriately, a Springfield Pride sign is proudly featured. And, as the project progresses, it is easy to see some of the reasons the town has to be proud- not just because of the buildings being shown, but because of the community and volunteers who are pulling together to do something that matters to them- and helps us all remember the beauty that surrounds us.Springfield mural- flowers

Get Involved: Call for Volunteers

There is still plenty of time to get involved- they are meeting every Monday evening around 7pm on Mineral Street. Everyone is welcome, as is any extra latex paint you might have laying around.

There is also a need for anyone with landscaping skills to help clear some areas to prevent water run-off from the hill and help preserve the mural.

Mona Frye explains the mural, the process, and why they need some landscaping assistance

Mona Frye explains the mural, the process, and why they need some landscaping assistance

A Facebook event was created to provide the most up to date information.

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Springfield, Vermont Town Plan (2009)

July 1, 2013 in Community Development, Springfield Citizen Awareness News by Jen

Town Plans offer interesting insights into the long-term plans of the community, as seen by those developing the plans. It is a good resource for understanding resources in the area and often provide background information for decision-making by elected representatives.

Below is the adopted Springfield, VT Town Plan from 2009. A new town plan is developed every five years.

Springfield Town Plan 2009

We will be publishing the proposed new town plan in several upcoming posts.

town planning drawing