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LAST CALL!

FAP Applications Due August 1

By Sonia Howlett, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

Did you know that cover crops have been grown for millennia? The use of off-season crops that helped to replenish the soil has been documented across many agricultural societies, including in ancient China, the Indus River valley, and early Rome. Cover crops were widely used in early colonial America as well, but their use decreased in United States in the 1940s and 1950s when commercial fertilizer became readily available, and the long-term effects of soil erosion and fertilizer overuse was not widely known or considered.  

In recent decades, collective understanding of the interconnectedness of agriculture, water quality and soil heath has improved in America and many annual crop farmers have turned (back) to cover crops to help keep/build topsoil on their fields. Cover crops increase organic matter in soil, reduce soil erosion, and can increase water infiltration. In addition, although only legume cover crops directly fix nitrogen in the soil, research suggests that even non-legume cover crops might play a role in helping prevent nitrogen leaching during wet winters by taking up and storing excess soil nitrogen until the spring.  

If you are interested in growing cover crops, but not sure where to start, your local NRCS, UVM Extension or Conservation District can help you decide what makes sense for your farm. There are many kinds of plants that you can grow as cover crops, depending on your goals. Some die over the winter so you don’t have to terminate them in the spring, others fix nitrogen, others will yield you an early spring hay cut… but all will help build your soil. 

If you plant cover crops this fall, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets can help you cover the cost of seed. The Farm Agronomic Practices (FAP) program provides $45/acre to support cover crops that are drilled or incorporated, or $30/acre to support cover crops that are broadcast or interseeded. 

FAP applications which include cover crop are due August 1, 2022.  

Other eligible practices for the FAP program include manure injection ($25/acre), crop to hay planting ($35/acre, or $45/acre with a nurse crop such as oats or peas), no till annual crop planting ($15/acre), and no-till hay and pasture renovation ($20/acre). Applications for these other practices are due 30 days prior to installation. 

When you apply, please include all practices planned until June 30, 2023, and remember that we cannot fund the same practice on the same field that will be paid for by any other state or federal grant programs. 

For more information on the FAP program requirements and to apply go to agriculture.vermont.gov/fap. If you have specific questions about practice eligibility, or how the FAP program works, you can contact Nina Gage at Nina.Gage@vermont.gov or 802-622-4098 or Sonia Howlett at Sonia.Howlett@vermont.gov or 802-522-4655. 

Keeping the Farm in the Family

Not a Last Resort

How One Family Learned to Better Communicate Through Their Farm Transition 

By Laura Hardie, Red Barn Writer

When Sam Burr and Eugenie Doyle of Last Resort Farm decided to conserve the farm in the early 90s, they shared a vision for their 272 acres in Monkton. “We always wanted to respect that this land would be undeveloped and a place to grow food beyond us,” Doyle said. “Our view of farming, in general, is that we are stewarding the land for whoever comes next.” When they conserved the farm and converted it from a dairy farm to an organic vegetable farm, their three children were young, and they didn’t know if any of them would want to farm. For many years none of them did. Until their son, Silas Doyle-Burr, took an interest in 2016 after working off the farm for several years.  

“I was doing agri-business consulting for large companies, so it was mainly a cubicle job. I was never getting my hands dirty, and that was what I craved…I like balancing office and physical labor,” Doyle-Burr said. “When I came home, the needs of the farm and having clear management boundaries was hard because the family and management boundaries don’t always match.” 

Though Doyle-Burr and his parents have a good relationship, they knew they would need support in the farm transition process, especially as it became clear that they weren’t exactly on the same page.  

“Silas was chomping at the bit. He called the three of us working as co-operators a three-headed monster,” Burr chuckled as he thought back to the early days of the transition. Though Burr can laugh about it now, he acknowledges that it was a challenging time as they each figured out their roles.  

“He was ready to take charge before we were ready to step back, and that is hard,” Burr said. “When your child is involved in the business, you have a different relationship. Those relationships are part of what your communication needs to be about. It can be tough for families to work through those things. It was for us and still is.” 

The family sought support from several organizations, including NOFA-Vermont, the Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, and the Vermont Agricultural Mediation Program (VTAMP).  The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program often collaborates with VTAMP on family farm transitions. The ag mediation program helps facilitate difficult conversations, and the Farm Viability program provides business expertise.  VTAMP helped by interviewing each family member first to learn about their perspectives and facilitated several family meetings.  

“We often see situations where the younger generation wants to try new things or take risks that the older generation doesn’t want to take,” VTAMP mediator Liza Walker said, “Or the next generation has a different vision for the future of the farm. We work with families to talk about expectations around their roles and how they communicate.”  

Doyle said ag mediation helped them to listen to each other and create a path to move forward.  “There are many aspects of a farm transition: legal, financial, technical, emotional; including giving up control and coming to a common-sense vision of what the future of the farm is, or not having a common vision – that’s where ag mediation comes in,” Doyle said. “They come into the tricky parts where there are rough edges, and I personally don’t know any transition that didn’t have any rough edges.” 

Ultimately, the family developed a transition plan they all likedIn 2017, Doyle-Burr signed a 15-year lease-to-own agreement that allows him to run and eventually buy Last Resort Farm. “We are very grateful to ag mediation for listening constructively to what we all had to say…and helping us figure out the important and non-important issues. They were very good at that.” Doyle said.  

VTAMP provides free mediation services to the agricultural community in Vermont on various issues, including farm loans, credit issues, farmer/neighbor conflicts, leases, USDA conservation programs, organic certification, wetlands determinations, and many more. 

Doyle says her advice for families working through farm transitions is to use all the resources available to be successful because the process is worth it.  “It’s not easy; family business transitions are not for the weak of heart. On the other hand, it’s also wonderful to have access to someone to take on the farm and to have input into how somebody is going to carry on the stewardship of a farm.” 

For more information or to sign up for free mediation with VTAMP, visit www.VTAMP.org where you can fill out an online request form. Or contact Matt Strassberg at (802) 583-1100 ext. 101 or matts@emcenter.org.  

Read More

Evan wants to keep farming.  Dairy is his life.  

Learn more about how Vermont Dairy Farmers work to feed us all, protect the environment and care for their animals.

Visit the Dairy Education Library:
https://www.vermontdairy.com/vermont-dairy-education-library/
View From 116:
The Importance of Agritourism

It’s the season to celebrate our farms and farmers. With the warmer weather, Vermonters and visitors get a chance to spend time closer to where their food is grown or produced. As I travel the state, I hear more and more about authentic encounters our tourists and neighbors are experiencing on Vermont’s farms. I am grateful for all our farmers who open their businesses up to the public during Open Farm Week (August 7th-14th). This model allows a working farm to generate supplemental income and gives visitors enjoyment and education.

Coming in late August and early September Vermont will host an International Workshop on Agritourism. It will take place in and around the Burlington area from August 30th to September 1st. This conference has been held around the world and Vermont is fortunate to have been chosen to host this this year’s workshop. It will bring together farmers, researchers, agricultural service providers, tourism experts, and others interested in agritourism to share their knowledge and experience.  Vermont is ready to show the world how we do it and to learn from others. The conference will be held in person but there are also virtual options for those who cannot travel. To learn more and register to attend, please go to  https://www.agritourismworkshop.com/

The Governor recently proclaimed August Agritourism Month highlighting the importance this industry plays in the Green Mountains.  Here a few reasons why:

WHEREAS, agritourism programs spread the culture and knowledge of agriculture production while providing owners and operators opportunities to supplement their income and sustain practices; and

WHEREAS, agritourism programs provide authentic, immersive, hands-on experiences for visitors that support Vermont’s tourism brand; and

WHEREAS, the International Workshop on Agritourism provides a great opportunity to promote agritourism and help the community work together to create sustained success; and

WHEREAS, Vermont greatly benefits from agritourism, sharing our agricultural traditions, encouraging visitation and promoting Vermont products while supporting many local farms; and

WHEREAS, Vermont is happy to host the International Workshop on Agritourism and welcome many involved in agritourism throughout the world to our Green Mountains …”

Wishing all a great end of summer and hope you consider the opportunities agritourism may bring to your farm.  

A picture containing insectDescription automatically generated                                             

Anson Tebbetts                                                            

Secretary                                                                         

More July 2022 Edition Articles
Vermont Honey:

"The Best Tasting Honey in the World!"

By Brooke Decker, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

The Vermont brand is widely known. Vermont honey is no different, as it has been long revered and highly sought after. As with other Vermont craft industry products, Vermont honey has unique characteristics that one can appreciate at first taste and complex enough to develop a passionate following.

This is the case with Genevieve and Rick Drutchas, of Bee Haven Honey Farm in Worcester, Vermont. Rick, who was the Vermont state apiculturist in the 1980s, greatly enjoys tasting different honeys from around the state and the world. As beekeepers, they focus on making delicious honey and recognizing the Terroir of each season’s harvest.

The Drutchases recently entered some of their raw honey into a honey tasting contest hosted by the Center for Honeybee Research. Hundreds of beekeepers from all over the world enter this contest each year, in hopes of winning the title of “Best Tasting Honey in the World”. The contest is quite comprehensive and rigorous. Some honey judging is based on perfection, this contest, judges the honey based solely on taste of the honey.

In what Rick describes as a surprising moment, the Bee Haven Honey Farm was awarded the highly coveted 2022 World’s Best Tasting Honey award.

“It’s the diversity of landscape and floral resources that make Vermont honey so flavorful. The geological history and land use in the region, combined with the honeybee management and the handling of the honey during extraction/bottling that contribute to the complex flavor profiles” Genevieve says.

Bee Haven Honey Farm specializes in Old World Style honey. This unheated, unfiltered, and minimally processed honey has a much more complex flavor profile than the commercially packed honey. When honey is heated, ultrafiltered, and commercially processed it remains liquid for extended time. While this may be visually appealing for retail store shelves, much of the flavor and benefits of honey are lost in the overprocessing.

Raw honey has much to offer the consumer. People who try raw honey for the first time often describe a different much more tantalizing tasting experience. Due to the natural crystallization of the raw honey, mouthfeel becomes part of the experience as well. 

There are ways that people can help save the bees.  Among them is to support a local Vermont beekeeper by purchasing raw honey. Seeking out local honey that is crystalized and maybe even has a little bit of wax floating on the top supports Vermont’s unique quality and brand and allows our beekeepers to continue the important work of fostering our local bee populations.

A huge congratulations to Rick and Genevieve on their win and for their continued support of the Vermont raw honey production.

The physically demanding work of farming can lead to injuries and other challenges which can compromise productivity and enjoyment of the work. There are several federal programs that support workers with occupational challenges, and Farm First wants to make sure that Vermont farmers can access these funds and programs.  Farm First has created a brief survey (2 minutes!) for farmers, to learn about what they might be experiencing that impedes their work. For example, a bum knee can be aided by a custom-built step-up for a tractor.  We thank you in advance for taking this survey: https://bit.ly/farmersurvey2022.  
Contact Andy Grayson with any questions: andyg@investeap.org
 
TAKE THE FARM FIRST SURVEY HERE
MORE AUGUST 2022 ISSUE OF AGRIVIEW

Recipe: Flavored Butters
Working Lands Enterprise Supports 'Life on the Farm' Camp
New State Law Requires Farmers to Report Surface Water Usage for 2022
A New Phase in Vermont Hemp Production
Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers News - July 2022
Maple Report Card
Northeast DBIC Update
Vermont Agriculture and Food System Plan 2021-2030: Agroforestry
Vermont Agriculture and Food System Plan 2021-2030: Direct Markets
Camp Gives Kids Chance to Work with Sheep and Goats

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