Since its inception in 2012, the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI) has invested over $3.8 million dollars in 129 projects impacting every county of the state, leveraging $7.4 million in additional funds. Over the last 5 years, working lands grantees have created 428 new full-time jobs and generated $18.1 million in new sales. Additionally, 98% of Working Lands grantees report expanding into new markets, 45% report enhanced environmental stewardship, and 30% report increased employee wages as a result of their grant.
On Thursday, January 26, 2017 the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative annual report was submitted to the Vermont Legislature accompanied by a short presentation and testimony from state leaders and past grantees. Among those who provided supporting remarks during the presentation were Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts, Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation Michael Snyder, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Ted Brady, Vermont House Speaker Mitzi Johnson, and Vermont Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe. Four past grant recipients also presented overviews of their businesses and working lands projects, and discussed challenges and opportunities facing their sectors, including Jon Blatchford of JK Adams in Bennington County, Andy Boutin of Renewable Fuels of Vermont in Windsor County, Myles and Rhonda Goodrich of Molly Brook Farm in Caledonia County, and Calley Hastings of Fat Toad Farm in Orange County.
Lila Bennett, owner of Tangletown Farm in West Glover received a $15,000 grant in 2016 to increase and improve their infrastructure for pasture laying hens and egg production. She said, “Receiving a Working Lands Grant enabled us to scale up our hen and egg operation to a sustainable level, as well as improve our infrastructure, increasing efficiency and productivity. Scaling up is expensive and hard for small farms to accomplish quickly. The Working Lands Grant gave us the boost we needed to be truly profitable and successful. Our farm is thriving with happy, healthy hens, in large part thanks to Working Lands.”
"Working lands grantees represent some of the best of Vermont. These businesses and service providers are harnessing our landscape in ways that keep it working and beautiful, while also creating jobs and growing their local communities. I'm very excited to engage with this board and these businesses in the years to come,” said Agriculture Secretary, Anson Tebbetts.
The full Working Lands Enterprise Initiative 2016 Annual Report can be found here: http://workinglands.vermont.gov/node/763
For more information about grant recipients in your area, visit: http://workinglands.vermont.gov/projects
The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, (Act 142), is administered by the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets in partnership with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. The Working Lands funds are administered by the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB), an impact investment organization whose mission is to grow the economies, cultures, and communities of Vermont’s working landscape by making essential, catalytic investments in critical leverage points of the Vermont farm and forest economy, from individual enterprises to industry sectors. For more information, visit http://workinglands.vermont.gov/