Young Farmers Buying Farmland with the Help of Land Conservation and Business Advising

Donegan Family, Hinesburg
Joe and Emily Donegan were able to expand their operation, purchasing conserved farmland in Hinesburg. Organic Valley photo

Donegan Farm, Charlotte & Hinesburg
Conservation of the O’Neil farm in Hinesburg is laying the foundation for Joe and Emily Donegan’s dairy farming future. These organic operators own a nearby conserved farm in Charlotte, and buying the conserved O’Neil farm more than triples their tillable land. Funded by VHCB/NRCS, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, the Town of Hinesburg, and with local fundraising by the Hinesburg Land Trust, this Vermont Land Trust project will also buffer over 30 acres of the LaPlatte River corridor. The Donegans received business planning assistance from VHCB’s Farm & Forest Viability program a few years ago, when they were working to acquire their Charlotte farm, also purchased with VLT and VHCB assistance.

Jon Wagner-Herbert and Karin Bellemare
Jon Wagner-Herbert and Karin Bellemare purchased farmland in South Barre in 2014. This year they bought additional farmland in Williamstown to expand their organic vegetable operation. 

Bear Roots Farm, South Barre
Jon and Karin bought their first farm in South Barre in 2014, through VLT’s Farmland Access Program (with funding from VHCB). At the same time, they enrolled in VHCB’s Farm & Forest Viability Program for assistance with a business plan. Four years later, their year-round CSA had grown, and they were ready for additional tillable land. When the conserved Storrs farm in Williamstown came on the market, they worked with VLT, VHCB and the Storrs family to make the purchase price more affordable by adding another restriction to the existing easement – the Option to Purchase at Agricultural Value. The additional farmland will allow their business to continue to expand, and also provide housing for farm labor. The Option helps to keep the land in agricultural use under future ownership.