Westminster – Paul Harlow, one of Vermont’s pioneers of organic vegetable production, conserved his home farm with the Vermont Land Trust. The conservation of the farm will permanently protect this fertile farmland for future generations.
“I want to see this farm I have worked on for so many years continue to be a source of food for the community,” said Paul Harlow. “I have long considered conserving the farm, and this was the right time as this transaction will allow me to transfer the farm to the next generation and provide for my retirement.”
Lying on fertile Connecticut River bottomlands, the 125-acre farm is located on a busy stretch of State Highway 5, one mile from the Exit 5 interchange on I-91 between the villages of Bellows Falls and Westminster. The Harlows sell produce, flowers, bedding plants, maple syrup, and preserves at their farmstand. Produce is also sold at the Brattleboro and Putney food coops, two local farmers’ markets, and distributed to both small and large markets throughout New England.
The land will be protected by a conservation easement—a legal tool that limits development on productive farmland and forestland. Landowners continue to own, manage, and pay taxes on conserved land and can sell their land; however, conservation easements permanently remain on the property.
This conservation easement also ensures that the land will always be affordable to future farmers, should the Harlow family ever sell the farm.
“We are so pleased to have Harlow Farm join with the many other conserved farms across Vermont. Conservation will help keep these farms active,” said Joan Weir, VLT’s Southeast Regional Director. “This Westminster farm is a thriving, local hub for food distribution.”
The Harlow Farm has a long tradition of agricultural innovation. The farm was acquired by Paul’s grandfather in 1918, and was a vegetable and dairy operation until 1968, when it was changed to all vegetables. In the 1980s, Paul began growing organic produce. He then started the Deep Root Organic Cooperative, through which he and 12 other farms marketed 80 certified organic products. Today, Harlow Farm’s wholesale produce is marketed through Westminster Organics.
The farm seasonally employs 50 people, ten full-time employees, and includes many growers and producers at the farmstand. In addition to the acreage owned and cultivated at the home farm, Paul owns the nearby conserved Kestrel Farm and River View Farm, and leases approximately 30 additional acres.
Funding for the easement purchase came from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) with matching funds from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The financial assistance from VHCB and NRCS help make it possible to permanently protect Vermont's highest quality agricultural resources.