BRATTLEBORO, VT — Strolling of the Heifers, which operated under the non-profit umbrella of Building a Better Brattleboro when it presented its first parade and festival in 2002, is developing a proposal to assume responsibility for the Robert H. River Garden from BaBB.
While details of the proposal are still being worked out and a formal proposal has not yet been submitted, the Stroll’s priority for the River Garden will be to maintain the building as a community resource, according to Orly Munzing, founder and executive director of the organization.
BaBB’s board has decided it must divest its interest in the building in order to focus on its core mission of downtown revitalization, but it has expressed the hope that the building can continue to be used in ways that contribute to downtown vitality.
“The River Garden is a jewel in the crown of downtown Brattleboro,” Munzing said. “It’s a great location and a great space. If we are successful in becoming the designated steward of the building, it will continue to be available for all kinds of public events, while allowing Strolling of the Heifers to expand our own roster of events and programs.”
Strolling of the Heifers is considering a number of improvements and expansions to the building, including the installation of a small commercial kitchen, installation of air conditioning, and construction of additional space to house the Stroll’s own office. The Waypoint information center for tourists would be maintained, and Munzing said she hopes that BaBB would maintain its office in the building as well.
The Stroll’s own mission is to help support, sustain and celebrate family farmers by connecting people with healthy local food. It does this through multiple events on “Stroll Weekend” in June, including the Strolling of the Heifers Parade, the Slow Living Expo, and the Tour de Heifer.
In addition, Strolling of the Heifers partners with Vermont Technical College in presenting the statewide Vermont Farm/Food Business Plan Competition with $60,000 in prizes to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship at farm and food enterprises. The Stroll also organizes the annual Slow Living Summit, a downtown Brattleboro conference focused on sustainable living and resilient communities.
The Stroll has used the River Garden in presenting many of these events and programs, and Munzing said that managing the building would present the opportunity to develop and host additional events furthering its mission, including local food tastings and dinners, lectures, concerts, classes and exhibits.
The building would continue to be open for events of other organizations, including the Winter Farmers Market operated by Post Oil Solutions. And rest assured, the restrooms would continue to be available to the public whenever the building is open.
The Stroll also plans to work with Vermont Technical College and Vermont Community College to use the building as resource once the two colleges begin offering classes in the Brooks House.