Thanksgiving is a good time to think about where our food comes from, about what it takes to nourish and encourage farms, to preserve Vermont’s living, agricultural landscape.
Well, first it takes money – lots of money, from a variety of sources. Second, it takes farmers – the people who want to work the land, and who know what they are doing.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure and privilege of working with the Vermont Land Trust on their project to resurrect Armstrong Farm in East Calais. The project is part of VLT’s Farmland Access Program, which matches farmers with land they can afford and that fits their business plan.
I took two trips to the property: one to walk the land on a sunny, fall day, capturing images of the farm and landscape; and a second visit to shoot on-site images of Amanda Andrews and Mike Betit (and their children), who were selected to be the new owners of Armstrong Farm.
Amanda and Mike, longtime farmers who run Tamarack Hollow Farm, were chosen through a competitive proposal process. They will bring the 129-acre farm back into full use – it operated as a dairy farm for 50 years – expanding their organic root crops and leafy greens farming business from eight acres of tillable land to over 50, and adding turkey and beef production to the mix.
After visiting the property, I saw several nice sites to photograph the couple, with my first choice being inside the heavily textured (translation: dirt, cobwebs, unused fencing and equipment) shed that adjoins the milking barn. I like the picture we got there (top of post), but Amanda and Mike were not wild about shooting in the space (“One of the first things we’re gonna do is tear down that shed,” said Mike), so we headed outside and got lots of other stuff too.
The cost to revive and transfer ownership of the farm is over $400,000 and 90 percent of it has been raised from a variety of sources, including from the future owners. But VLT needs to raise another $55,000 before the end of this year to make all the pieces come together. If you’d like to make a contribution, visit the project page on the VLT website for more information.
Here are some of my favorite images from the two days at the farm.
5/1/17 Update: I have just learned that the project is within $15,000 of meeting their fundraising goal.