Mike Barrett of Stoneholm Farm worked with the Vermont Land Trust to conserve a 61-acre farm field located along Interstate 91. Mike uses this field to grow corn, alfalfa, and grass for his 660-head dairy herd in Putney.
The field is located just north of Dummerston Station Road and has nearly a mile of frontage on Interstate 91, In the ‘60s and ‘70s, the land was part of the Moore Farm dairy, after which it was sold and then leased to local farmers.
One area was used as an airstrip, known as the Dummerston “International” Airport.
With its proximity to the Connecticut River, located on the other side of the Interstate, the field has excellent farm soils.
The town has long appreciated the land’s agricultural importance: a farmland assessment organized by the Town of Dummerston in the 1990s ranked this field as the town’s most important farm property to protect, based on its fertility, location, and scenic view.
“I’m so pleased that we could help a local farmer and a caring community to protect this valuable agricultural resource for future generations,” said Joan Weir, of the Vermont Land Trust.
Conservation protects this property from development and subdivision. The land will also stay available to farmers into the future, since the Vermont Land Trust has the option to purchase the farm at its lower, agricultural value should an owner attempt to sell the property to a non-farmer.
In 2006, the Barretts bought the farm and sold 15 acres to the east of I-91 to Walker Farm for growing vegetables. They have worked to restore the soils that were compacted or removed because of the airstrip by adding fertilizer and letting the soils rebuild over time. Today, the main field is in full production and Stoneholm Farm employees live in the farmhouse.
“This is the first step in my plans to use the proceeds of the sale of a conservation easement to help pay down the costs of new farm infrastructure I plan to build,” said Mike. “Next, I hope to work with the same state and federal partners to conserve my home farm and the Great Meadow in Putney, along the Connecticut River.”
With unanimous support from the select board, the Town of Dummerston contributed $15,000 from its Farmland Protection Fund toward the conservation project. In 2014, the town used this fund to support the conservation of the Bunker Farm with the Vermont Land Trust.
A grant of $247,000 from the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service made this project possible.
“The Board is pleased to support this farmland conservation effort that will forever protect prime agricultural soils,” said Gus Seelig, Executive Director of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board. “Conserving this open land along Route 91 maintains the working landscape that is valued by Vermonters and visitors to our state.”