The Billings Farm was established in 1871 by Frederick Billings, a native Vermonter who became known for his work as a lawyer, conservationist, railroad builder, and pioneer in reforestation and scientific farm management. Billings set out to make his 270-acre farm a model dairy operation. In 1884 he hired George Aitken, an innovative and successful professional farm manager. The farm imported cattle directly from the Isle of Jersey, kept careful records of milk production, and bred selectively to improve the herd. Deeply concerned with the desperate condition of Vermont's forest cover, Billings planted more than 10,000 trees in the Woodstock area, putting into practice ideas that were proposed by an earlier resident of the farm, George Perkins Marsh. Marsh is recognized as one of this country's first conservationists.
Visitors will experience a first-hand sampling of actual farm work, animals, and agricultural processes. The authentically restored 1890 Farm House – the center of the farm and forestry operation a century ago – features the farm manager's office, family living quarters, and creamery, where butter was produced for market. Interactive programs in the farmhouse for visitors and students interpret 19th-century agricultural improvement, butter production, and domestic life.