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Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024

Coffee and Art: Catie Raishart at Little Seed

“There were some [photos] that were just a total given,” said Raishart. “Like I love the cow picture a lot.”
“There were some [photos] that were just a total given,” said Raishart. “Like I love the cow picture a lot.”

At Little Seed Coffee Roasters, the specialty latte flavors aren’t the only things that change with the seasons. Along with the shift from sweet potato pie to sugar and spice, Little Seed regularly swaps out the artwork that adorns its walls. This month, the artist in the spotlight is Catherine “Catie” Raishart. 

Raishart wears many hats. While her current exhibit presents charming snapshots from around New England, the simple label of “photographer” fails to accurately describe the breadth of her work. 

For starters, Raishart lives and works on the family-run Foxglove Farm in Leicester, Vt. She and her husband, who first met on a non-profit farm, specialize in flowers and maple syrup. Since 2016, the couple has also run an Airbnb on the 70-acre property for visitors seeking a peaceful forest retreat. 

On top of that, Raishart homeschools her three children, aged 8, 11 and 12. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the family made the switch from homeschooling only their eldest to having all three kids learn at home. 

“It’s partially my philosophy to just bring them places when I have a commitment,” she wrote in an email to The Campus before her interview. Her youngest child, Emmett, sipped a hot chocolate while we talked, green-blue eyes widening as he occasionally chimed in.

As a full-time farmer, mom and teacher, how does Raishart manage to add artist to that list? It’s a delicate balancing act, she explained.

“You know how a balance beam is a stable structure? My life is more like a teeter totter,” she said. “I try to keep the kids in the center of the teeter totter, where it’s still wobbly, but mostly stable, and then art and farming on either end. You just can’t do it all, but you can try to balance it in such a way that it works.”

This drive for equilibrium isn’t new to Raishart, however. In college, she studied philosophy.

“That was utilizing one piece of my brain really heavily and I needed an outlet, so I ended up taking a lot of art classes [and] got a minor in art,” she said. 

One of those art classes was focused on darkroom photography. 

“What that class really taught me was you’ve got one chance to try to line up this picture,” she said. “Now, you can take like a thousand pictures on a phone and delete all of them if you don’t like any of them. That class just really helped me see things in moments.”

In addition to her one-take darkroom training, Raishart maximizes efficiency by primarily using her iPhone to take photographs. That way, she never misses a moment.

While curating her current exhibit at Little Seed Coffee Roasters, Raishart began by narrowing down her collection of moments by geography. As a seventh-generation Vermonter and tenth-generation New Englander, the Northeast holds a special place in her heart. This attachment is evident in the exhibit’s focus on rural landscape scenes from the region.

 “I really like photographing the quiet moments,” Raishart said. “All these small cozy things that otherwise we might lose sight of.”

The displayed images in the coffee shop were captured across New England between 2016 and 2023. 

For Little Seed co-owners Anthony Gerakos and Maggie Gerakos, this choice to emphasize local artists is intentional. Since opening in 2021, the couple has used the white walls of their shop to highlight a variety of painters, photographers and mixed media artists from around Addison County. 

Eagle-eyed customers can spot traces of their first exhibit with the flamboyantly vibrant Vivace  (whose name, fittingly, is Italian for “lively”) in a pair of brightly colored sofa cushions that are still perched on some café chairs. 

“We met with [Vivace owner Sophia Manzi] before we actually opened Little Seed because we always knew that we wanted local artists to be able to hang on our walls because our walls are just a perfect canvas,” Maggie Gerakos said.

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Often, artists reach out to Little Seed directly about the possibility of a collaboration.

 “At certain points, we’ve had people booked like a year in advance,” Gerakos said. “There’s been a lot of interest.”

In general, exhibits last for about three months. There is no commission fee involved; Little Seed gets an aesthetic boost while local artists get a chance to present and sell their work directly to customers, making it a mutually beneficial arrangement. 

Raishart’s choice to contact Little Seed last summer was well-timed, as the owners had recently decided to begin an extended series featuring multiple photographers.

“For the foreseeable future, we’re doing photography,” Gerakos said. “We just thought it would be a fun way to reel things in a little bit and keep it to one medium.”

In recent months, the series has featured photos from Greece and the United Kingdom, making Raishart’s work a return to home soil. For a farmer-artist, what could be more appropriate?

Acadia Klepeis

Acadia Klepeis ’24 (she/her) is an Arts & Culture Editor. 

She is an English major and a French and Francophone Studies minor. Last year, Cadi studied literature in Paris and in Oxford through Middlebury’s school abroad programs. She spent this past summer working as a communications intern for the Vermont Arts Council. Previously, she completed internships with Tuttle Publishing, Theatre in Paris, and Town Hall Theater. Cadi is also on the board for Middlebury College Musical Theatre.