SHELBURNE – When customers walk into La Ferme, owner Graham Nolla wants them to feel as though they are actually on a real farm. With ingredients sourced exclusively from local growers, and a menu that includes no meat, no soy, no dairy, no gluten, no nuts, and no legumes, Nolla has decided to take his organic restaurant to the next level of authenticity.
“We don’t serve meat here,” Nolla says, “but we have several cows that live in the back, and they live in the dining room during off hours. At other times, when we have customers, they’re out back grazing or just chilling. I have been to a lot of places that claim to be “authentic,” but they smell so sanitized, so corporate. I think La Ferme is the only place around that actually smells like a barn.”
With hay spread over the concrete floors, and piles of manure strategically placed around the tables, customers would be forgiven for thinking they were not in a dining room at all. The wooden walls are drafty, the roof leaks slightly during strong weather, and the smell is unmistakable.
“I was unsure at first,” said one diner, in town from Ohio to look at the foliage, “but this place is so rustic! It’s exactly how I imagined everyone in Vermont living and eating. I mean, obviously I wouldn’t want to live this way myself, but it’s cute to see the people up here, and the way they have to handle all the stuff like cows and stuff. Super cute!”
So far La Ferme has not seen many repeat or local customers, but Nolla is confident that the tourist crowd will keep him in business for years to come.
“You smell that?” Nolla asks. “That’s the smell of success.”