VHCB’s Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program Awards over $400,000 to 13 Farms for Infrastructure and Water Quality Improvements

For immediate release
Contact: Ela Chapin, Viability Program Director, VHCB 802-828-2117; @email


The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, a program of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, awarded a total of $403,405 to 13 Vermont farms through its most recent round of Water Quality and Dairy Improvement Grants.

Eight farms in Addison, Franklin, Lamoille, Orleans, and Rutland counties were awarded $236,575 in Water Quality Grants. These grants leveraged $2.3 million in additional funding for capital improvement projects to reduce runoff and improve manure management and soil health. The Viability Program grants are matched by the farmers’ funds, bank loans, and grant funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.

The Viability Program also awarded $166,830 in Dairy Improvement Grants to six farms in Addison, Franklin, and Lamoille counties. The grants will be used to support infrastructure improvement projects with combined investments of over $1.2 million that will improve cow health, cow comfort, farm efficiency, and water quality.

Anson Tebbetts, Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, said, “These grants will help farmers make much needed investments to steward their land, protect water resources, and care for the animals that support their livelihood. In many cases, the grants will also help improve milk quality and the viability of these farm businesses.”

Maple Grove Farm, located in Derby, has won a number of awards for their high quality milk. Farmers Andy and Sarah Birch will use a Water Quality Grant to build a new manure pit and install a concrete barnyard, reducing soil loss and runoff. This project is also supported by NRCS and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets.

Andrew and Sarah are currently enrolled in the Viability Program, working with UVM Extension on their plan to take on ownership of the farm from Andy’s parents. Andy said the farmstead improvements supported by this grant are key to modernizing the farm’s aging infrastructure, “This project is absolutely critical to the long-term success of Maple Grove Farm. The new manure pit will be a key piece of permanent infrastructure that will make the farm more efficient and reduce our need for supplemental fertilizer.”

Since August 2017, with funding from the State of Vermont’s Capital Construction and Bonding Act and Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy, LLC, VHCB’s Viability Program has awarded more than $1 million in Water Quality and Dairy Improvement Grants to 34 farmers across the state. Vermont farmers with a gross farm income of $15,000 or more may apply for grants of up to $40,000. For information about grants and upcoming deadlines, visit www.vhcb.org/viability.


Water Quality Grant Awards:

Andy & Sarah Birch, Maple Grove Farm, Derby
$40,000 for a new manure storage facility and barnyard improvements  

Dana & Wendy Burkewitz, Breezy Valley Farm, Westfield
$34,375 for a new manure pit, runoff capture, and barnyard improvements

Marc & Cheryl Cesario, Meeting Place Pastures, Cornwall

$20,450 for a bedded pack barn, barnyard improvements, and improved animal trails to reduce erosion and runoff

AnnMarie Gillilan, Quarry Hill Farm, Jeffersonville

$16,750 for a new covered manure storage structure

Brian, Chanin, Ronald, Brian, Joanne, & Kevin Hill, Four Hills Farm Partnership, Bristol

$20,000 for two new manure storage facilities

Seth & Brian Leach, Woodlawn Holsteins, Pawlet

$25,000 for no-till planting equipment

Julie Longway, Longway Farms, Swanton
$40,000 to relocate a silage bunker and capture leachate

Jamie & Laura Rivers, J & L Dairy, Troy
$40,000 for manure pit upgrades and an improved barnyard

Dairy Improvement Grant Awards:

Crystal & Corey D’Avignon, Independence Farm, Orwell
$16,580 for barnyard and heifer housing repair and a generator

Clement, Larry, Paul, Gisele, & Robert Gervais and Katherine Lawyer-Hale, Gervais Family Farm, Enosburg Falls
$35,000 for a parlor upgrade with milk monitoring equipment

AnnMarie Gillilan, Quarry Hill Farm, Jeffersonville
$15,250 for cow comfort stalls and improved ventilation

Tom & Mary Machia, Tommary Holsteins, St. Albans

$25,000 for a new bulk tank and milk house renovation  

Matt & Jeannine Rainville, Rainville Dairy, Highgate
$40,000 for a barn construction project

Brendan & Marcy Schreindorfer, Windy Hill Farm, Enosburg Falls
$35,000 for a robotic milking system


The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program provides business planning, technical assistance, and ownership transfer planning to farm, food and forest products businesses. For more information about the program please visit the Viability Program website: www.vhcb.org/viability.