Island Insights

Island Insights: 6 Actions you can Take to Help your Champlain Island Neighbors

Newsletter graphic of frozen lake

At Coldwell Banker Islands Realty we feel very grateful to be a part of such a close knit community filled with individuals and organizations that go above and beyond for one another. As we know, the pandemic has brought a number of unforeseen challenges and many families in Grand Isle County have been impacted in some way.

We are proud to support organizations such as the Champlain Islands Empty Bowls and CIDER who are working to eradicate food insecurity in Grand Isle County. We urge you to join the fight and lend a helping hand to your fellow Island neighbors in whatever way possible. Listed below is a guide of local food organizations that currently are asking for donations or have volunteer opportunities.

Champlain Islands Empty Bowls Logo

1. Virtually Support Champlain Islands Empty Bowls 
While we surely missed the annual raffle, dinner, and handmade bowls, you can still help to decrease food insecurity in Grand Isle County. The Empty Bowls fundraising efforts have gone virtual this year however, the need is still great! During the month of February they were collecting funds for food organizations such as, CIDER, Food for Thought, and Grand Isle Food Shelf. That being said, there is no deadline to donate, just make your checks out to the Congregational Church of South Hero with "Empty Bowls'" on the notation line. You can send the check to Margaret Nowak, the Congregational Church of South Hero or drop the check or cash off at CIDER.

Image Source: Champlain Islands Empty Bowls

Little free pantry in Vermont
2. Drop off items at Food for Thought
The Congregational Church of South Hero's Food for Thought has a Little Free Pantry set up outside the church on South Street for people to take what they need and leave what they can but are asking that you omit items that are in glass containers and canned goods during the cold months. Get Directions

Image source: Kaight Althoff

3. Volunteer at CIDER  
CIDER is in need of drivers! They are looking for help to deliver their "Neighborhood Meals" specifically with a demand for drivers north of the drawbridge. They also are relying on direct mail fundraisers since their typical personal fundraising can’t take place this year. Donate Today

Image Source: Annie Gardiner

Seedlings in Hands

4. Join the Grow for a Neighbor Campaign
The South Hero Land Trust has launched the Grow for a Neighbor campaign! You can get involved by volunteering as a gardener or donating to buy seedlings. The produce yielded will be donated to a local food shelf and the seedlings are bought from local farms and will be used for the volunteer gardeners and to create potted plant packets for families at risk. Volunteer or Donate Today

Image source: South Hero Land Trust


northwest VT healthy roots collaborative logo

5. Volunteer at Healthy Roots Collaborative
If monetary donations aren't in the cards for you, consider volunteering at Healthy Roots. This collaborative works to strengthen the local food system in Northwest Vermont and serves Grand Isle County. They are seeking volunteers to harvest in the fields and deliver produce to the food shelves. Volunteer Today 

Image Source: Healthy Roots Collaborative 

6. Drop off goods at a Food Shelf in Grand Isle County
CIDER has compiled a great resource with a list of the local food shelves throughout the Champlain Islands. If you are in need of food or are dropping off items we recommend contacting the pantry ahead of time to coordinate and gain insight on any COVID-19 restriction they may have. Find a food shelf near you 

Image Source: Alex Rosenberger

Please consider getting involved by donating or volunteering to assist these food organizations that are providing relief to so many members of our community!

Island Insights: 2020 Market Highlights in Grand Isle County

Frozen lake graphic

Grand Isle 2020 Market Update

This past year was unprecedented in many ways, at the start of the pandemic it was hard to say what the impact would be on the housing market. However, despite the many challenges, 2020 turned out to be one of the hottest markets we have ever seen with homes selling faster than ever. 

One of the factors that led to this ‘pop’ in the market was that the coronavirus had homebuyers reassessing their criteria for a home. Folks spent more time at home which led to clients searching for more square footage, home offices, as well as larger outdoor space. Due to many working remotely, new areas of the state were considered. This along with the inability to travel, resulted in an increase in the second home market or second homeowners became full time residents. 

The Lake Champlain area was an ideal place for many in-state and out-of-state buyers and people selling their home took advantage of the sellers market. These factors combined with the record low mortgage rates made buyers eager to find their dream home. However, the lack of inventory made for a very competitive market. 

Ultimately, both buyers and sellers overcame, making 2020 one for the books. In Grand Isle County, 181 homes were sold. That is an increase of 19.1% from 2019 with more luxury and lakefront homes selling than usual. 14 homes sold for over $1 million in Grand Isle County--more homes than the last 4 years combined!

In Grand Isle County new listings were down 5.2% to 219 compared to 231 in 2019. Due to low inventory, competition among buyers was high and many listings were seeing multiple offers and selling above asking price. As a result, the days on market till sale has decreased 14.6% and the median sales price has increased 13.2%. As we kick off the new year, the real estate market is holding strong and buyers are still actively searching in our area. Inventory is at an all time low with just 32* homes for sale in Grand Isle County giving sellers the upper hand. Home prices are on the rise and buyers are in high demand, if you're thinking of selling now is the time!

*As of February 1, 2021


Hidden Home:

Nestled among the cedars, maples, and pines this adorable abode offers privacy and seclusion. This lakefront retreat is sited on an amazing 2.3 acre peninsula with 670 ft of direct shoreline down a ½ mile private drive! Enjoy this exclusive look inside this covert home located in Isle La Motte. (Note: This home is NOT for sale) 

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Island Insights: CBIR Year in Review

Island Insights Guides Champlain Islands' landscape lake champlain sandbar

Happy New Year to our readers! As we begin a new year we are reflecting on 2020 and even though it was a difficult year with many changes we reached many milestones and are grateful to have had another successful year. 

After 26 years we moved into a new office, we rebranded, we launched a social mission to give back to our community, and we welcomed three new people to the CBIR team. The real estate market has kept us on our toes with shutdowns, stay at home orders, and embracing technology to offer virtual services. Despite these changes we have adapted and have continued to provide real estate services safely. 

We could not have reached these accomplishments without the support of our team, clients and community. We are grateful for all of your support. We look forward to the new year!

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Island Insights: Champlain Islands Holiday Gift Guide


As we roll into the month of December the search for the perfect present begins...This holiday season we challenge you to shop local and support Grand Isle County businesses. We have you covered with gift inspiration and great shopping spots right here in the Champlain Islands! 

1. Doghouse Pottery 


South Hero recently welcomed Doghouse Pottery and they have opened a studio and shop at 564 US-2 Unit 4! You may recognize them from the Champlain Islands Farmers’ Market as well. All of their products are 100% handmade in South Hero, Vermont. Ranging from beautiful mugs to mixing bowls and even growlers you will be sure to find a special pottery item for someone on your list!

Photo by Amanda via Doghouse Pottery


2. Champlain Islands Candy Lab


Is it really the holidays if you aren’t indulging in sweet treats? The Champlain Islands Candy Lab in South Hero, Vermont has an assortment of to die for Vermont artisanal chocolates and baked goods. They also offer holiday gift boxes and custom gift boxes, perfect for the chocolate connoisseur in your life!

Photo via Champlain Islands Candy Lab


3. Kraemer & Kin


To appease the Beer lovers on your list, head to Kraemer and Kin’s tasting room in North Hero and pick up a gift card or a four-pack of their tasty, beautifully packaged craft brews. We recommend pairing that with one of their merch items, try adding a couple of their pint glasses or a Botanical Ampersand Tee. 

Photo via Kraemer and Kin


4. Meadow Lane Macrame


Meadow Lane Macrame is a Handmade Fiber Art shop out of South Hero that creates unique pieces from wall art to super fun earrings. These boho inspired designs are irresistible and their plant hangers are a great gift for those with a green thumb! You can browse their different macrame collections on their brand new website.

Photo by Christel Nase via Meadow Lane Macrame


5. Hero's Welcome General Store


When in doubt, head to Hero’s Welcome in North Hero. This general store will have you covered with everything under the sun. Whether you’re looking for your niece, nephew, or co-worker, this general store is packed with games, books, gag gifts, household items, clothing, and a wide selection of local products! 

Photo via Hero's Welcome


6. Grand Isle Art Works


Located on Route 2 in Grand Isle, Vermont, Grand Isle Art Works has a variety of fine arts and crafts ranging from glass, mixed media, clay, wood, photography and much more! While you're there, keep an eye out for Across the Grain Pottery and their raku fish sculptures. This South Hero pottery studio specializes in functional pottery and raku, they even offer classes as well! Surprise your crafty friend or family member with the gift of a private pottery lesson.

Photo via Grand Isle Art Works


7. Savage Gardens Bijoux Jewelry


A local farmer, owner of Savage Gardens, and a jeweler?! Amanda Gervais does it all, including creating unique sterling silver pieces that are popular among many. Based out of North Hero, one of her most well-known pieces are her Lake Champlain pendants. To see more of Bijoux Jewelry’s designs visit her shop on etsy.

Photo by Amanda Gervais via Savage Gardens


That’s a wrap on our holiday gift guide folks! Now you can find something for everybody on your list this holiday season while supporting small businesses in the Champlain Islands. Don't see your favorite shop on our list? Please comment their name or website below!


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Island Insights: Conversations with CIDER

Island Insights graphic with aerial view of Champlain Islands

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Conversations with CIDER

The town of South Hero has seen several developments in the last five years from the Community Health Center, Wally’s Place, Worthen Library, Champlain Islands Candy Lab, Viva Marketplace and more to come. The next big thing to come to South Hero will be an affordable senior housing facility. CIDER (Champlain Islands Developing Essential Resources) has partnered with Cathedral Square (a leading creator of affordable housing with services for older adults and people with special needs) to bring this multi million dollar project to the Champlain Islands.

Over the last 15 years CIDER and Cathedral Square have been working hard to come up with an affordable senior housing solution for the Grand Isle County community. Introducing Bayview Crossing. It will house 30 apartments for older adults, a variety of amenities and services for residents, and an office space for CIDER. It is planned to be a mixed-income community, with apartments at both market-rate and subsidized rents. 

Robin Way pointing at field where construction will take place After years of searching for a site, septic tests, and archaeological studies, they have settled on a site behind the Community Health Center and plan to break ground in late 2021. One of the main criteria for creating this development was to be close to services. This location is within walking distance to the Community Health Center, the Worthen Library and local eateries making it an ideal location. 

Grand Isle County is the oldest county in the state of Vermont and one of the only counties without any type of senior housing. This makes it difficult for residents who need care and most end up leaving the Champlain Islands to find services. Since the early 90’s there has been an expressed need for senior housing in our area.



Cathedral Square is a local nonprofit and they have 25 affordable housing communities in Vermont but none in an area quite like the Champlain Islands. Due to Grand Isle County’s unique demographic makeup, it is a great opportunity for Cathedral Square to bring affordable senior housing to this rural area. They are currently in the fundraising phase of the project. If you or someone you know is interested in more information about donating visit their website.


Learn more about CIDER

The mission of CIDER is to help people with special needs continue to live independently at home. This non-profit is run by executive director, Robin Way, as well as their team of staff, board of directors, and their dedicated army volunteers (they have between 100-150 volunteers in a year!). 

Their services range from ride services, meal programs, community events and classes, wheelchair ramp construction, medical equipment and so much more. All of these resources are free and they depend on their members and fundraisers to continue to provide these services.

Image of the CIDER sign and logoRobin Way in front of the new site that will become Bayview Crossing senior housing

“We see more kindness and generosity in any given day. People stepping up to help out each other. Neighbors helping neighbors. That's what it takes.” 

- Robin Way, CIDER Executive Director


In our December Issue...Chocolate from Champlain Islands Candy Lab

Keep an eye out for a local gift guide that will help you get your holiday shopping done this season without having to leave the Champlain Islands!


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