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Stark Hollow Farm

by Linda Cassella



Stark Hollow Farm is the first farm in Vermont awarded Top Grassfed and Animal Welfare Certification for Sheep Located in Danville, VT in the heart of the Northeast Kingdom , the farm was started in 2006 by Laura Smith and Vanessa Riva. In the mid 2000’s, while Laura and Vanessa were living in California,  working in corporate America, they had a vision of returning to the land.

Vanessa came from Italy in 1989 to study  and earned a masters vanessadegree in civil and environmental engineering in 1997 from MIT.    When she was growing up in Italy, she spent many weekends on her uncle’s farm in the Italian countryside.  She still works as an engineer today, applying the skills she learned to the farm to produce utilitarian, yet artistic & sustainable items.  Her philosophy, to holistically manage a small pastoral farm, infuses her work every day.

lauraLaura Smith was born and raised in Vermont. She received her bachelors degree in communication from the University of Southern Maine.  She has traveled extensively throughout the United States as an entrepreneur and business manager.  She brings to the farm her own experience of growing up on a small farm in northwestern, VT where her family raised chickens, geese, goats and beef.  On the farm she acts as general farm hand, manages the business, and is the resident gardener.   She is also the excited assistant during lambing.

Their vision led them back to Laura’s home state of Vermont and in 2008 they purchased their first Icelandic ewes and a ram lamb which they raised themselves. They also purchased a flock of heritage breed laying hens on a small plot of land in Starksboro. Vanessa and Laura eventually expanded their flock to include 22 breeding ewes and began breeding through artificial insemination for their first pure bred Tamworth sows. the farm has evolved and is now on 78 acres in Danville, VT.

icelandic sheepTheir mission is to continue to manage a small diversified farm in sync with nature to produce healthy and sustainable farm products from animals whose quality of life is their passion.  The farm raises registered pure bred Icelandic sheep, registered pure bred Tamworth pigs, purebred Tamworth feeder piglets, and layer chicks and hens. from their beautiful farm.  Among the items the farm offers are healthy, delicious meat products, eggs, gorgeous Icelandic pelts and fiber products. Laura and Vanessa place an emphasis on the conservation aspects of raising heritage and primitive breed animals and focus on animal welfare rather than high production.

For more information on the farm and where to purchase their products visit:

Stark Hollow Farm


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