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Since 1937, Agriview has been the flagship monthly news source of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. The new 'Agriview All-Access' email delivers a snapshot of the stories you'll find each month in the full print edition. 

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IMPORTANT NEWS

2022 Vermont Farm Show Cancelled

Due to growing concerns regarding the extended impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vermont Farm Show Executive Committee has decided to cancel the 2022 show.  The safety of our vendors and attendees is of utmost concern and we believe it is the best decision for everyone. This decision was not an easy one and we are hopeful that we will be back in full force, better than ever in 2023.

Choiniere Family Farm of Highgate Center Receives
New England Leopold Conservation Award

By Sand County Foundation

The Choiniere Family Farm of Highgate Center, Vermont has been selected as the recipient of the 2021 New England Leopold Conservation Award®.  Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes those who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife resources in their care. Dairy farmers Guy and Beth Choiniere receive $10,000 and a crystal award for being selected.

The Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 23 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation.

      
“As the national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of the New England recipient,” said John Piotti, AFT President and CEO. “At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”

“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”

“The Choinieres embody so much of the ethos and practice that Aldo Leopold taught and modeled, for generations,” said Spencer Meyer, Senior Conservationist at the Highstead Foundation. “I cannot think of a more fitting way to celebrate two inspiring legacies than by recognizing the Choiniere Family Farm with the 2021 Leopold Conservation Award.”

“We are pleased to present this award to Guy Choiniere and the Choiniere Family Farm. I am thrilled that a dairy farm so devoted to conservation agriculture, and improving water quality has been chosen as the first New England Leopold Conservation Award recipient from Vermont,” said Nathan L’Etoile, New England Director of American Farmland Trust. “Not only does Choiniere Family Farm hold itself to a high standard, but Guy devotes his own time to teach tomorrow’s watershed stewards, elementary school students around Lake Champlain, the importance of conservation practices to keeping our lakes and rivers clean.”

The New England Leopold Conservation Award is made possible through the generous support of American Farmland Trust, New England Forestry Foundation; Wildlands, Woodlands, Farmlands and Communities; Sand County Foundation, Farm Credit East, David and Ann Ingram, Yale School of the Environment, and Whole Foods.
       

ABOUT CHOINIERE FAMILY FARM
 

Guy Choiniere believes the health of the soil is the health of the farm. This land ethic drives his actions on a dairy farm that’s been in the Choiniere family since 1945.

While navigating changes in the farm economy, climate and farming practices, the Choiniere Family Farm has become a model of innovation and adaptability for other New England dairies.  Soil health and erosion control practices have kept the farm productive and resilient despite an increase in severe storms, rainfall and periods of drought in northwest Vermont.

Prompted by an unstable market for conventional milk in the 1990s, Guy studied and then transitioned to organic production. It’s a move he said was good for his cows, land and bottom line. A few years later he seeded 25 acres of corn to permanent hay and pasture in order to convert his herd to 100 percent grass-fed. That move fetched an even better price for their organic milk.

After taking over the farm, Guy also began addressing environmental issues with assistance from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The conservation plan he developed remains a work in progress today.

To prevent soil erosion and improve water quality, the Choinieres planted 5,000 trees along banks of the impaired Rock River. They also conveyed a 51-acre river corridor easement that designates an area where the river can meander naturally. The land can still be farmed, but the river will not be dredged. There is also a permanent 50-foot naturally vegetated buffer along 12,000 feet of the river’s bank.

Keeping nutrients on the farm and out of the river was also aided when Guy switched from conventional liquid manure storage to an innovative compost bedded pack system. During the winter the cows are fed hay in large hoop barns designed to mimic the comfort and atmosphere of being on pasture. Excess hay provides bedding and catches manure before being trod down into compost. When the cows resume rotational grazing in May, pigs are let into the barns to root around and expedite the composting process before it is spread on fields as nutrient-rich fertilizer. Guy is an ambassador to help other dairies manage bedded pack systems.

The Choiniere Family Farm participates in Vermont’s roadside sign program that identify conservation practices like rotational grazing, cover crops, no-till and streamside plantings. The Choinieres, who were Vermont’s Conservation Farmers of the Year in 2009, are now the first New England Leopold Conservation Award recipients from the Green Mountain State.

Read More

Creamy Chicken Tortellini Soup

A hearty variation of chicken noodle soup.  You can find this and even more recipes at www.newenglanddairy.com 

 

Get the Recipe!

TIME TO THINK ABOUT BARN ROOF SAFETY

by Cornell University Extension

When the snow comes down heavy and hard, it’s time for farmers to start thinking about barn roof safety. 

Heavy snow can put barn roofs at risk, but snow removal must be performed carefully. Removing snow without the proper approach can cause more damage, by creating an unbalanced load. Remember, your number one priority must be to protect your own safety! 

Farmers are encouraged to consider these safety tips, provided by Cornell University, when considering snow removal from a barn roof. 

DO… 

  • DO consider a systematic approach. You need a plan! For a diagram of the best way to remove snow from your barn structure, see this tip sheet from Cornell  
  • DO listen for creaking or moaning – if your barn is built from wood, unusual sounds may indicate there’s trouble afoot 
  • DO look for bending or bowing rafters, headers, or columns. There are often visual cues to be found, if you look carefully at the structure 
  • DO ask for help. You can’t do this alone. Who is your back up? Is there anyone in your community with expertise or equipment, who might be willing to help? 

DON’T 

  • DON’T remove snow unequally from the roof. Unbalanced loads can create even more problems. 
  • DON’T pile snow atop the roof. Do not simply move the snow from one area of the roof to another 
  • DON’T attempt to clear the snow yourself! Make sure there are others nearby, helping and watching, in the event of a problem 
More January Edition Articles

Governor Scott Celebrates Vermont's Christmas Tree Industry with Annual Tree Cutting

 By Scott Waterman, VT Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

Governor Phil Scott and Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts visited Maple Hill Farm in Barton on Monday, November 29th to celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season with the help of Vermont’s farmers. The trees cut during that visit decorated the Pavilion Building in Montpelier, which houses the Governor’s Office.  

“As we enter the holiday season, Vermont and its people, including our farmers, offer so many reasons to celebrate,” said Governor Phil Scott. “This is a time of year to take note of the good and unite around the true meaning behind each of the seasons’ traditions: Togetherness, community and hope.”

“We were honored to have the Governor visit our farm. This is a special time of year for us! We are so lucky to see and visit with all our friends and neighbors, all while hunting for the perfect tree,” said Nick Lussier of Maple Hill Farm, who along with his wife Stephanie, own and operate the 30-acre maple and Christmas tree farm located in the Northeast Kingdom. They also produce and handcraft pure wood-fired Vermont maple syrup, maple cream, and their signature maple seasonings and jellies, as well as raw honey.

According to the 2017 USDA Census, there are 3,650 acres in Christmas tree production in Vermont across 70 farms with a crop worth more than $2.6 million.  Many more Vermonters bring to market Christmas trees, wreaths, garland and other decorator items each year, according to Jim Horst of the NH/VT Christmas Tree Association.  “Many trees are sold to the wholesale market for ultimate resale throughout the region,” Horst said. “Others, though, are sold directly to the consumer, who enjoy the process of actually visiting the farm and taking part in the “cut your own” experience.”

“Choosing and cutting a Vermont Christmas tree is a holiday tradition.  It brings families together in the Green Mountains bringing joy and happiness during this special time of year,” said Secretary Tebbetts.  “We are grateful for all the Christmas Tree farmers who work the land and grow such beautiful trees for us to enjoy.”

Vermont holiday trees have also decorated homes in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia each year, with thousands of Green Mountain trees sold in urban pop-up markets. In addition, visitors to Vermont participate in our holiday tradition by hauling home freshly cut trees.  This season, the country is experiencing a shortage of wholesale Christmas trees, but Vermont’s pick-your-own crop is prepared for the season, with plenty of trees to choose from when you visit your nearest Christmas tree farm.

More Articles
MORE IN THE FULL JANUARY 2022 ISSUE OF AGRIVIEW

NE-DBIC Receives $6.1 Million in Third Round of Funding 
Announcing Goat & Sheep Dairy Supply Chain Grant Awards 
Vermont Specialty Crop Block Grant Program 2022 Request for Applications 
New Phosphorous Reduction Payment Program Opening for Applications 
Takeaways - National Hemp Regulators Conference
Application for Vermont Businesses to Vend at BIG E Opening in January 
Governor Scott Celebrates Vermont’s Christmas Tree Industry with Annual Tree Cutting
New Program Offers Free On-Farm Technical Aid
Eye on E. coli 
Getting What You Pay For - Ensuring Accuracy in Scales and Meters
Upcoming Grant Opportunities 
Vermont Agriculture and Food System Plan 2021-2030 - Bread
Vermont Agriculture and Food System Plan 2021-2030 - Food-Grade Grains
Applications for Trade Show Assistance Grants Opening in January 
Live Webinar Series on Farm Succession and Transfer starting January 26th
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
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