How do we build a Gathering Place for now and the future? With our community partners, Atkins Field and our community commons is becoming the place for your history, trails, art, family, food and more. Join us!
We did it! We met both of our funding challenges for the Atkins Field pavilion project. We had 85 new donors, and filled the $20,000 fundraising gap. This means the project is able to move forward. A contract will be signed next week with builder Makaio Maher of Green Timber Works, a construction company based in glover.
Construction will begin with demolition of the former workshop building on the Atkins Field property when weather permits and is expected to be completed by the end of August. Primitive history trails will be trimmed by Green Mountain Technical and Career Center Students, and key historic relics and natural resources will be marked by Hardwick Elementry School students during the school's Sustainability Fair planned for early June. Interpretive panels and a plaque thanking everyone who donates to the pavilion project will be created and added to the pavilion's end wall before a grand opening celebration and heritage festival, planned for September.
A vibrant community is something we all have in common, and we are excited to share this opportunity to build on our shared future. Nestled in downtown Hardwick, this 15 acre field and forest property is our shared community asset. This location is ideal for family and multi-generational use - of forests, fields, waterways, trails, history, events, gardens and more!
At the turn of 20th Century, Woodbury Granite Company owned Atkins Field, and grew to employ nearly 1,400 people in our town. Bustling granite sheds, trains, and stonework manufacturing enabled the company to ship Vermont granite all across the United States. Courthouses, city halls and other foundational buildings from Chicago to Washington DC utilized this natural resource.
When the Company closed in 1935, the 15 acre space became an informal town green, where horse pulling contests, beagle trials, and even a winter ice rink were set up for the Town's citizens to enjoy. As the granite company buildings fell into disrepair, Hardwick locals would use the fields, and the leftover stone, for their own purposes. Whether Vt Association of Snow Travelers, Vt All-Terrain Sportsman Association, or birders and dog-walkers, the field and forest have had both formal and informal trails for decades. Hardwick's Kiwanis Club hosted the very first Spring Festival on the field in 1950 - a tradition that's still in full force decades later!
In 2008, the CAE purchased the land, with the intent to showcase the history and to provide a space for a working local landscape - to produce food or incubate farms. Slowly, this vision has come to pass:
- 2011: Hardwick Farmer's Market moves to Atkins
- 2013: Hardwick Community Gardens move to Atkins
- 2015: Community Hoop House is built, and gardens expand
- 2016: Community orchard and permaculture plantings are completed - by Hazen high school students!
But the space is not just for food and farming - the Skating Rink was revived for the winters, and a Bicycle Pump Track was built, to add to the recreation options.
The CAE began a public dialogue in 2014 to learn from our community what the future of our Town Gathering place should be. The vision for the site includes:
- indoor space for events and celebrations
- history and educational trail systems, for motorized and non-motorized use
- repair cafes, maker shops and access to shared use community resources
- indoor/outdoor classroom capacity for our local schools
- partnerships with our Food Pantry, local non-profits and more to add value to our events and activities!
In Phase 1, we will be building a Bog Bridge, a Trail System, Educational Kiosks and a Parking Lot to preserve the open field space.
But our biggest project will be a large Pavilion on the site of the current dilapidated workshop building. We invite you to learn more by visiting our Atkins Field Blog (coming soon!) and to join us in our Grassroots Campaign to make these additions to our community a reality!