It Takes a Conservation Partnership: Marquis Farm
An aerial view of the Marquis Organic Dairy in Newport, Vermont. Photo courtesy of Caleb Kenna.
It Takes a Conservation Partnership:
How a small, organic Vermont dairy joined forces with local, state, and federal conservation partners to plan for the future.
Marquis Organic Dairy is located in the Upper Missisquoi Watershed, part of Vermont’s iconic, yet impaired, Lake Champlain Watershed. Just a stone’s throw from the Canadian border, the farm includes just under 250 acres of conserved land and organic pasture and hayland, in addition to 120 cows. Marquis Organic Dairy is a family operation, run by Marc and Tiffany with sons Mason (15) and Jacob (11).
The couple purchased the farm from Marc’s uncle in 2011 and started their small, certified-organic dairy. Married since 2000, the couple is also raising two sons, ages eleven and fifteen. Raised on a conventional dairy, Marc notes that his father was very frugal. “It’s important to try to save when you can so it makes the tough times easier when they come,” said Marc. He also emphasized that organic is a lifestyle choice for their family, stating, “It’s better for the soil, and benefits animal health.” The farm includes prime agricultural soils, nearly 6,000 feet of road frontage, and is traversed by over 3,000 feet of two tributaries of the Mud Creek.
Faced with the uncertainty of the dairy industry, and learning the ropes of the State of Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices (RAP’s), Marc turned to a host of conservation entities for guidance and support. “I knew I could do more,” he said. His conservation ethic, and the need to meet state regulations, motivated Marc to dive right into an alphabet soup of programs available from diverse entities. It takes a village, they say. Or in this case, a dedicated group of conservation partners who Marc says he has developed a relationship with, and a level of trust.
With the assistance of this partnership and their respective programs, the family installed a range of conservation practices to protect soil and water quality and permanently conserved two parcels, totaling 246 acres. The USDA-NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) was instrumental in pulling together the various players and program dollars. Read more