By Cara Montgomery, Vermont Land Trust
Highgate— Increasingly, farmers, state and federal natural resource professionals, and conservation groups have been addressing flood resiliency and water quality concerns with conservation measures. Most recently, dairy farmer Guy Choiniere worked with the Vermont Land Trust, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, and The Nature Conservancy to protect over a mile and a half of Rock River frontage on his farm, ensuring that it will always be able to access its natural floodplain without disruption.
Guy sold restrictions along a mile and a half of the Rock River, creating a “river corridor” that is legally protected by an easement held with the Vermont Land Trust. This corridor is an area where the river can meander and change its course, which reduces erosion hazards and flood risks, and improves water quality.
“Our family has worked very hard in building solid and vegetated river banks on our farm, so it only makes sense to conserve our part of the Rock River with a river corridor easement,” said Guy. “This will ensure the integrity of the river.” The conservation easement requires that future owners of this land must also keep the land within 50 feet of the river naturally vegetated.
The land, located on Gore Road and Tarte Road in Highgate, can still be used for farming but the river will not be armored or dredged. Steep slopes surround the river, with narrow terraces and pockets of wetlands nestled along the bases of these hills. These wetlands are further protected by the easement by limiting agriculture and timber harvesting in these areas.
“The conservation measures that are now in place will help improve water quality on the Rock River, which ultimately flows into Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay,” explained Cara Montgomery of Vermont Land Trust. “We are grateful to have the opportunity to protect such a large area along this river, thanks to the Choinieres.”
Guy operates an organic grass-fed dairy with the help of his son Matt. The Choinieres ship milk to Organic Valley, and also raise chicken, pork, and veal, which they sell at their on-farm store.
Guy’s farm was conserved by his parents Henry and Raymonde Choiniere in 1997 with the Vermont Land Trust, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, & Markets. The land has 242 acres of excellent agricultural soils, plus 70 acres of woodland.
Funding for the river corridor easement was provided in part by the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, which has identified the Rock River as one that would benefit from stream protection and water quality efforts. This project was also made possible in part with funding provided by The Nature Conservancy under a grant from Keurig Green Mountain, Inc.
About the Vermont Land Trust
The Vermont Land Trust is a statewide, member-supported, nonprofit land conservation organization. Since 1977, the Vermont Land Trust has permanently conserved nearly 2,000parcels of land covering more than 578,000 acres, or 10 percent of the private, undeveloped land in the state. The conserved land includes more than 900 working farms and farmland parcels, hundreds of thousands of acres of productive forestland, and numerous parcels of community lands. This conservation work changes the lives of families, invigorates farms, launches new businesses, maintains scenic vistas, encourages recreational opportunity, and fosters a renewed sense of community. For more information or to become a member, contact: Vermont Land Trust, 8 Bailey Avenue, Montpelier, VT 05602, (802) 223-5234.
Day 3 will be the last but perhaps most important day at the 2018 Vermont Farm Show. At 10am, Agency of Agriculture Director Diane Bothfeld holds the Dairy Update meeting. A State-of the Union type presentation for the milk industry, this is a deep dive on the health of the milk dairy commodity market, milk pricing, the daily challenges that dairy farmers face and the future of the industry. We will be providing this report on the Agency website later this week.
Directly following the Dairy Update, Vermont Governor Phil Scott will hold his weekly press conference at the Show. Always an exciting time when the Governor comes to the Show, this year he will be highlighting the exciting Phosphorus Challenge; a collaborative effort of the Agriculture Agency, the Agency of Natural Resources and the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The challenge offers money for innovative and entrepreneurial ideas to capture the nutrient phosphorus off our agricultural lands before it is able to get into our state waterways, and turning the captured phosphorus into a reusable, marketable and sellable product. We plan to broadcast this press conference live on our Facebook page, so stay tuned!
In other news, the Agency of Agriculture team captured its second Capital Cook-Off victory in a row last night, beating a strong Senate team! The secret ingredient was eggs, and the teams had various types of eggs to choose from. The Agency’s creations were entitled “3 Eggs - 3 Ways” and included a massaged kale salad with a poached quail egg; a scotch duck egg with root vegetables oven fries; and a hen egg smoked maple soufflé. We’re working hard to get the recipes for these wonderful creations so you can taste the magic yourself!
Come on over to the Farm Show and visit!
Day 2 is here at the Vermont Farm Show! We are ready to welcome you at the Agency of Agriculture Booth, as are all the other exhibitors. Secretary Anson Tebbetts will be on WDEV with Mike Smith at 9am, and coming up tonight is the Capital Cook-Off and Consumer Night…2 big events for the Show and the Agency. Come on out to The Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction! We go to 7pm tonight!
What about the next generation of farmers? Is there enough opportunity in agriculture for young people to sustain the heritage of Vermont farming? At this year’s Vermont Farm Show, the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets is promoting careers in agriculture. Below is a letter written by Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts greeting those visiting the Farm Show who may be interested in agricultural jobs:
“On behalf of Governor Phil Scott and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, I want to welcome you to the 2018 Vermont Farm Show, and congratulate you on your interest in agriculture as a potential career. As the head of a state government agency working to support the agricultural industry and its many parts, I can assure you that there’s something for you in agriculture.
At the Agency of Agriculture, we have farmers and scientists working side-by-side to provide support to Vermonters. Areas of expertise run from biology and engineering to chemistry and veterinary medicine. We employ dairy professionals who are responsible for inspecting dairy plants and providing support to start-up businesses as well as engineers who inspect the gas pumps and grocery scanners that we interact with regularly in our daily lives. You could call the Agency a smorgasbord of professionals, all coming together to support the incredibly important agriculture industry in Vermont. If you want to work on or own your own farm, we stand ready to help.
We encourage you to connect with one of the many Consumer Night attendees who have set up booths at the Farm Show. These Vermont entrepreneurs can tell you about starting a business utilizing a Vermont farmer’s crop to create other products, all in support of our state’s important agricultural industry.
So thank you for visiting the Show and supporting Vermont farms and farmers. From milk to math or biology to bees, you can find a rewarding and important career in agriculture. Feel free to reach out to my staff or me if you wish to explore any aspect of agriculture in your community. Secretary Anson Tebbetts”
If you wish to visit the Farm Show on Consumer Night, please visit http://www.vtfarmshow.com/ for more information. If you’re interested in employment opportunities at the Agency of Agriculture or in the Vermont Agricultural community, please contact the Agency at (802) 828-2430 or AGR.Helpdesk@vermont.gov.
If you assembled all Vermont’s farming community under one roof, brought in huge tractors and tiny maple tools, old-time Vermont farmers and young entrepreneurs, scientists and service providers, you might have something worth calling the Vermont Farm Show! Well, someone long ago thought of this wonderful idea and this year’s 2018 Vermont Farm Show is the 86th annual collection of all that is Vermont agriculture!
After walking through the front doors at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction and perhaps nearly running into a tire as big as a 6-foot tall human, you recognize the scale that the show encompasses. Over 150 exhibitors have set up shop for the three day Farm Show, with attractions for both young and old. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets has created an educational game that reminds folks of Twister…you even take turns on a spinner to select a color, and then attempt to answer an important water quality question. Have no fear though, only mental contortions are required.
The Vermont Maple Association and Bee Keepers Association are both here to show off their industries, as well as NOFA Vermont, UVM Extension, Poulin Grain, the Vermont Bird Fanciers Club, assorted chickens, sheep and cows, as well as the St. Albans Coop and other dairy folks.
Since opening the doors at 9am, there has been a steady flow of visitors walking and visiting the all there is to see and experience. One of the smallest of these visitors appear already to be enamored with life on the farm!