VHCB’s Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program Awards Nearly $1 Million to 30 Dairy and Livestock Farms for Water Quality Improvements

The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, a program of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, awarded a total of $956,000 to 30 farms in Addison, Caledonia, Chittenden, Franklin, Orange, Orleans, Rutland, Washington, and Windham Counties to support capital investments that improve water quality. Some of these awards will also support businesses in their recovery from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These grants leveraged an additional $3.1 million for capital improvement projects, including farmer investment, bank loans, and grant funding from the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM).

Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts said, “Farmers are always listening and learning. The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program’s Water Quality Grants are helping farms invest in sustainable practices during a critical time. These grant funds will help these businesses and our working landscape now and into the future by building soil health, reducing runoff into waterways, improving management practices, and contributing to long-term viability.”

Fairmont Farm is a third-generation dairy farm in East Montpelier and Craftsbury owned and operated by Clara Ayer, Richard Hall, Bonnie Hall, Ricky Hall, and Tucker Purchase. According to Clara, their mission is to uphold the “utmost consideration for the safety and happiness of our people, the cleanliness of our environment, and the health of our animals.”  

Early adopters of no-till planting and cover-cropping techniques, Fairmont Farm has continued to enhance their management practices to improve water quality, nutrient management, and overall efficiencies. With a $20,000 VHCB Water Quality Grant and matching funds from the farm and VAAFM’s Capital Equipment Assistance Program (CEAP), Fairmont Farm will be able to utilize innovative injection technology to spread manure more efficiently, reducing soil compaction and nutrient loss.

Ayer explained, “We realize that to farm now, and in the future, focusing on sustainability measures is crucial. We recognize that the land will not take care of us unless we take care of the land.” Working with their local conservation district and Vermont Land Trust, they have also planted buffers along waterways and conserved over 1,600 acres that provide public recreation trails. 

Steve Schubart of Grass Cattle Co. in Charlotte will invest a VHCB grant of $8,150 in grazing infrastructure for his grass-fed beef business. Schubart will install laneways that allow frequent movement of cattle, reducing harm to the pasture, building organic soil matter, and storing water to reduce runoff and support drought resistance. This investment “not only creates labor efficiencies, but produces tremendous rewards for the land, soil, and wildlife habitats,” said Schubart. He has also worked with his local conservation district to install buffer fencing around riparian areas on the property.

Since 2017, with funding from the State of Vermont’s Capital Construction and Bonding Act, VHCB’s Viability Program has awarded more than $2.3 million in Water Quality Grants. Application materials for the next round of funding are now available at www.vhcb.org/wqg. Application deadlines are December 4, 2020 & March 12, 2021.

Given the many challenges working lands entrepreneurs are facing in the wake of COVID-19, the Viability Program has also launched COVID Response Business Coaching consultations to support farm, food, and forest products businesses – free of cost. More information at www.vhcb.org/support-services.


2020 Water Quality Grant Awards

First Grant Round - $466,424 to 14 farms

Audy Farms, New Haven, VT: $40,000 for a no-till planter

Bartholomew Brothers, Inc., Benson, VT: $40,000 to decommission a silage bunker

Bread and Butter Farm, Shelburne, VT: $40,000 to expand regenerative grazing

Clifford Farm, Starksboro, VT: $16,497 for a manure pump to enable timely manure application

Dale and Alma Briggs, Addison, VT: $33,147 for a vertical tillage seeder

Dry Brook Farm, LLC, Rutland, VT: $6,217 for a covered barnyard

Foster Brothers Farm, Inc., Middlebury, VT: $40,000 for a manure vacuum truck

Maple Cedar View Farm, Derby, VT: $35,616 for a new manure pit and concrete barnyard

Pinello Farm, Randolph, VT: $15,800 for a no-till seeder

Rail View Dairy, New Haven, VT: $40,000 for a no-till drill/seeder

Rolling Bale Farm LLC, Shoreham, VT: $39,147 for a bedded pack pole barn

Rusty John Farm, Addison, VT: $40,000 for a round baler/wrapper

Sprague Ranch, LLC, Brookfield, VT: $40,000 for a new calf hutch enclosure

Stonewood Farm, Inc., Orwell, VT: $40,000 for a road and bridge project to reduce erosion


Second Grant Round - $489,577 to 16 Farms

Bouchard Family Dairy, Franklin, VT: $40,000 for a dragline manure application system

Champlain Valley Farm, Addison, VT: $40,000 for a manure storage facility

Chandler Pond Farm, Wheelock, VT: $40,000 for a winter feed yard and new manure storage

Chaput Family Farms, North Troy, VT: $20,000 for a dragline manure application system

Fairmont Farms, East Montpelier, VT: $20,000 for a manure injection system

Gosliga Farm, Inc, Addison, VT: $40,000 to construct a new leachate pond

Grass Cattle Company, Charlotte, VT: $8,154 to create a new laneway for a pastured beef operation

Hillside Homestead, Craftsbury, VT: $35,359 for a new barnyard

Iroquois Acres NWA, LLC, Bridport, VT: $40,000 for a manure dragline injection system

J & L Dairy, Newport, VT: $20,339 for a new manure pump

Longway Farms, Swanton, VT: $18,000 for a manure injection toolbar

Newmont Farm, Bradford, VT: $31,425 for new manure storage

Peter and Lorie Hutchins, Enosburg Falls, VT: $16,300 for a wrapped round baler system and silage leachate capture system

Poulin & Daughters Family Farm, Randolph, VT: $40,000 for a covered barnyard

Westminster Farm, Westminster Station, VT: $40,000 for a new bunker wall for manure storage

Wonder Why Farm, Cabot, VT: $40,000 for a new manure pit


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 Viability Program, please visit www.vhcb.org/viability.