Love The Outdoors? Join VVC’s Fall Events
Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors and most of the Fall events planned by Vernon Volunteers’ Collaborative (VVC) organizations take place outside.
Beetlemania – Sept. 17 (Sat.)
Each fall Vernon Greenways Volunteers inspect the Rail Trail for infestations of the Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorned Beetle. The goal is to find them when they can be more easily controlled. Volunteer teams are led by experienced conservationists. 9 a.m. Rain date Sept. 24.
Farm Work Day – Sept. 24 (Sat.)
The Strong Family Farm’s Fall Work Day invites the whole family outside with many projects to choose from. Your time spent at the farm is sure to be an enjoyable experience and your help well appreciated. 9 a.m.
Talcott Ravine History & Geology Walk – Oct. 1 (Sat.)
This popular three-mile Northern CT Land Trust walk begins in historic Talcottville and includes a loop through Talcott Ravine returning on the Rail Trail. 1 p.m.
Double Art Reception – Oct. 2 (Sun.)
Arts Center East hosts a reception for its ‘Creating A Children’s Picture Book’ exhibit downstairs while the Fifth Annual Artist Members’ Exhibit reception is being held upstairs. 2-4 p.m.
Farm Harvest Festival – Oct. 15 (Sat.)
The annual Strong Family Farm festival includes children’s activities, pumpkin decorating, farm tours and the farm’s annual scarecrow contest. Apple sales, hay bale maze, animals, vendors, music and a farewell to the farm’s summer chickens. 10 a.m.
Webster Preserve Hike – Oct. 16 (Sun.)
The Northern CT Land Trust leads this hike on one of their lesser known properties off Valley Falls Road and above the Rail Trail. Great fall foliage viewing. 9 a.m.
VHS 50th Anniversary Celebration – Oct. 23 (Sun.)
The Vernon Historical Society will hold an Open House with many Vernon historical artifacts
To learn more about these events visit our VernonVolunteers.org website. To receive email announcements join our MeetUp group. Learn how on our website.
Getting Students Involved
Vernon provides many opportunities for our students through the schools and the programs of the Park & Recreation Department. The organizations of the Vernon Volunteers’ Collaborative also find ways to include young people. Here are a few examples:
Arts Center East offers art classes for children and hosts the Vernon Public Schools Annual Art Exhibit each Spring to showcase student work in a professional setting.
New England Civil War Museum held a Civil War Camp For Kids at Strong Family Farm in June to teach them about living conditions, communication, cooking and marching in formation.
Strong Family Farm encourages whole families to do farm tasks during their Spring and Fall Work Days, includes a student race as part of their annual Chicken Run, and runs the 8-week Adopt-a-Chicken program.
The Vernon Chorale featured RHS’s Vocal Motion chorus as part of their April concert.
Tolland County Agricultural Center hosts the annual 4-H Fair each summer. With animals and competitions this is a kid favorite.
Vernon Education Foundation is solely focused on students. Their projects include providing new books to first graders at the end of the school year, the summer Book Mobile, and mini-grants to teachers for classroom materials.
Vernon Garden Club, working with Lake Street School students, created a butterfly garden which is maintained yearly by students.
Vernon Historical Society offers a yearly program for 3rd grade students where they visit the Society’s museum to learn about Vernon’s early history. This year the Society collected and posted student drawings showing their favorite town building.
Eagle Scout projects have been supported by Friends of Valley Falls, Strong Family Farm, and the Vernon Education Foundaton. In addition many of the organizations provide volunteer hours in support of RHS’s Student Community Service program.
Learn more at our News Page VernonVolunteers.org/news. You’ll also find contact information on our website.
Vernon’s First Church
Bolton was recognized as a town in 1720 and proceeded to divide its land between the 50 proprietors. Most chose farmland in the southern part of town and Bolton’s meetinghouse was built nearby.
The northern part of town was rugged, mostly wood lots and planned for future expansion. Sons established their farms in North Bolton, with some of the best land along the old east-west Indian trail separating the Hockanum and Tankerhoosen River valleys.
Church attendance was a duty, so North Bolton families traveled six miles each Sunday, mostly by foot, to spend the day at worship in Bolton Center. In 1760, when there were enough families, the North Bolton parish was formed. Parishioners immediately began to plan their meetinghouse.
The site chosen was on the hill overlooking the Connecticut River Valley near the corner of Bamforth Road. The nearby Bamforth Road Cemetery was established ten years earlier.
The meetinghouse was raised in June 1762. Building the church was probably much like an old fashioned barn raising where the community came together for a weekend with whole families participating. When first used it was little more than a shelter for the congregation, remaining without pews until 1770.
The first minister was Rev. Ebenezer Kellogg, a 25 year-old Yale graduate. He read his lengthy sermons which carefully set forth the doctrines and duties of religion. After serving 55 years he died in 1817, his long career entirely at the old meetinghouse on the hill.
In 1826 the growing community built a new church at Vernon Center. The original meetinghouse was moved to Rockville and became the east wing of the old Frank Mill.
The meetinghouse was far more than a place of worship. Government meetings and other important gatherings took place there. Each Sunday farmers would travel from their homesteads to worship, meet their neighbors and ‘tell the news.’ To learn more visit MeetinghouseHill.org.
Meetinghouse Hill Field
Across Route 30 from the Vernon Center Middle School is a field. The field has a red barn at one corner, rows of corn stretching to Cemetery Road and a small herd of beef cattle. Running up the left side of the field from the barn and over a fieldstone bridge is a barely visible cow path.
What appears to be a typical farm field is actually one of the most historic properties in Vernon.
Early settlers in 1762 chose to build their first meetinghouse at the top of this hill. Families walked along dirt roads from their farms to church each Sunday. The road they took from the west for 63 years climbed what came to be known as Old Meetinghouse Hill.
The road to Hartford became an official turnpike in 1801 and with improvements was straightened bypassing the field. When the new church at Vernon Center was built in 1826 the road up the hill, still unpaved, was abandoned by the town.
The Strong family bought the field with its red barn about 1900 using it primarily for their herd of dairy cows for over a hundred years. A spring in the field supplied water to the Tolland County Temporary Home For Children near Center Road.
To preserve this important piece of Vernon’s heritage Meetinghouse Hill, LLC was formed by local residents and purchased the 33-acre property with the intention that the land continue as working farmland and that the public have access to the path and the view over the valley. Four members of the Vernon Volunteers’ Collaborative are involved.
The story of Meetinghouse Hill reminds us of where we come from, where we are today, and what we want for tomorrow. Here you can walk on the same unpaved path used by the Podunks and our Colonial ancestors. For more go to MeetinghouseHill.org.