WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 15, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — On September 24, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board committed $1.6 million in state and federal funding to conserve six farms with nearly 700 acres of productive agricultural land in Washington, Windham, and Orange Counties.
VHCB matched $740,000 in state funds with $864,000 in federal funding for farmland protection from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The Vermont Land Trust is raising approximately $170,000 in private and town funds to match the state and federal dollars. In each case, the farmers will sell conservation easements, limiting any future development to the terms of the easement. As a result of these funding commitments, the Vermont Land Trust will conserve farms in Barre Town, Washington, Thetford, Randolph, Westminster and Dummerston. Three projects involve transfers to new owners and two involve new enterprises with young farmers. Two projects will conserve well-established vegetable farms as part of the farmers’ transition planning into new ownership.
Gus Seelig, VHCB Executive Director, said, “Our Board is pleased to support the conservation of these farms, selected from 12 applications. We appreciate the continued strong interest from the agricultural community in selling development rights, especially as a vehicle to facilitate transfers to the next generation or to new farmers, and to help pay for planned expansions or diversification.”
Tim Taylor, owner (with his wife Janet) of Crossroad farm in Thetford, said, “We enrolled in VHCB’s Farm Viability program to help devise a long-term transition plan for our farm business so that we can retire in the next few years. It became clear as we worked on our plan that selling the development rights was a key to our ability to transfer our farm and business at an affordable price. We’re thrilled with the award.”
Conservation will help ensure that their land stays in farming forever. The Vermont Land Trust is raising $60,000 in private and local donations to match the state and federal dollars. The town is contributing $5,000.
Frank and David Pinello conserved their dairy farm in Randolph Center in 2007. When 112 acres of highly productive cropland they have leased from an area landowner for ten years went on the market, the Pinellos sought funding for the sale of development rights to bring the purchase price of the leased land to an affordable level.
VHCB also awarded $68,500 to the city of Burlington to purchase a lot in the Old North End that is used as a community garden. VHCB has invested in over 160 affordable homes within five blocks of the garden site. Using matching funds from the City’s Conservation Fund and the Chittenden Regional Planning Commission, the City will be able to purchase this rented lot and ensure that it remains a community garden forever, available to neighborhood residents to grow fresh, healthy food.