By Phyl Newbeck
Dustin Glasscoe moved to Vermont with the goal of getting involved in the local food movement. He has achieved that goal, but not quite in the way he envisioned. In 2008 he started Vermont Farm Table in his Shelburne garage. Now, six years later, he has a thriving business with six employees, a wood-crafting facility in Bristol, and a showroom in Burlington.
Vermont Farm Table has gone through some changes in the last six years. After its start in Shelburne, Glasscoe moved his family to Charlotte, four weeks before his first child was born. In addition to wanting to get further away from Burlington and have access to a good school system, Glasscoe was happy to have a barn and a woodshop (the previous owner had been a boat builder) to hone his craft.
In 2011, Vermont Farm Table opened its first retail store and a year later they were able to move into a bigger space in the old Photo Garden building in Burlington. In May of 2013, operations moved to a 10,000 square foot facility in Bristol. Around that time, the company launched a wholesale division and acquired over 150 new accounts but they felt the work stifled their creativity and have since disbanded that department. Likewise, after experimenting with other products, the company has returned to its roots building solid wood tables.
“What we’ve done over the years is continually evolve the business to find our path,” Glasscoe said. “As is true with so many things in life, we’ve circled around to where we started.” Vermont Farm Tables are locally sourced (roughly 50 percent of the wood is reclaimed and the remaining 50 percent is American hardwood) and have a low carbon footprint and a non-toxic finish with no VOCs. Glasscoe said hand finishing is the slowest part of the manufacturing process, taking four to six days to complete, compared to the half hour process used by most manufacturers.
Vermont Farm Table’s sales are up 60 percent from 2013. The company is part of the state’s Working Lands Initiative and Glasscoe is involved in a number of other state programs. Glasscoe said he “hid from the Vermont market” for the first two years of the company’s operations, selling all over the country but not locally. “I wanted to build up expertise first,” he said. “I was afraid to put myself out on the stage against our cohorts in the industry. We marketed out of state first.”
Even when he’s home, Glasscoe can’t stop working with his hands, whether it’s making play structures out of natural materials for his kids, tinkering in the garden, stacking his woodpile, or cooking with lots of whole grain. Glasscoe grew up on a farm in North Carolina and learned about custom building and furniture design from his father. After going to college in Colorado he worked for five years as a chef before returning to college and getting a job in digital marketing. “Vermont Farm Table brings together my history of working with my hands, my love of food, and my digital experience in the corporate environment,” he said. “I’m very much a do-it-yourself Vermonter at heart.”
By Phyl Newbeck