The more things change, the more they stay the same.
If you were to ask dairy farmer David Conant, he’d likely tell you there’s a lot of truth in that old adage.
He comes from a long line of Conants who have farmed more than 500 acres of sandy loam soil along the banks of the Winooski River in Richmond.
The family’s farm at this site dates back to 1846, when Samuel Conant and Harriet Pierce Conant had the good foresight to move their existing stony farm to what was then known as “the turnpike farm.”
Since then, five more generations of Conants have cultivated the land.
And it is David’s sincerest wish that his and his son Ransom’s generations are far from being the last.
“This is my legacy, and I am very conscious of that,” he says. “One of the things you can do to have a better life is to leave the earth better than you found it, whether you grow a single rose or a thousand acres.”
We recently visited with David on a bright October morning to learn more about his family’s efforts to be innovative farmers and good stewards of the environment.
Vermont Diesel Emissions Financial Assistance Program: The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will once again offer almost $300,000 in incentive funding this fall through the Vermont Diesel Emissions Reduction Financial Assistance Program! This funding will be competitively awarded to projects that reduce emissions from diesel-powered vehicles, engines, and nonroad equipment.The DEC will soon issue a Request for Proposals with the deadline TBD.
Farm Agronomic Practice (FAP) Program: Utilizes state funding to help Vermont farms implement soil-based agronomic practices that improve soil quality, increase crop production, and reduce erosion and agricultural waste discharges. Eligible fall practices include manure injection and no-till renovation: apply >30 days before implementation.
Working Lands Business Enhancement Grant: The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI) is excited to have just released a new request for applications (RFA) totaling $450,000 that will allow Vermont farm, food, and forest businesses to invest in business enhancement initiatives, such as market, infrastructure, and workforce development. Award amounts for the Business Enhancement Grant are from $20,000 - $35,000.The Business Enhancement Grant covers the same types of eligible projects as the former Standard Business Grant, but with an increased maximum allowable award (formerly $25,000; now $35,000) to account for inflation and rising business costs. Applications due October 28.
Capital Equipment Assistance Program (CEAP): Financial assistance is available for new or innovative equipment that will aid in the reduction of surface runoff of agricultural wastes to state waters, improve water quality of state waters, reduce odors from manure application, separate phosphorus from manure, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce costs to farmers when they apply manure. Applications due November 1.
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Farmer Grant Program: Northeast SARE offers grants to farmers to explore new concepts in sustainable agriculture conducted through experiments, surveys, prototypes, on-farm demonstrations or other research and education techniques. Farmer Grant projects address issues that affect farming with long-term sustainability in mind. Competitive proposals explore new ideas and techniques or apply known ideas in new ways or with new communities. Reviewers look to fund projects that are well-designed to meet proposed objectives and promise the greatest benefit to farming communities. Applications due November 15.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP): EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against increasing weather volatility. Applications due November 18.
ARPA-Funded Primary Producer Impact Grant: Are you a primary producer of farm or forest products looking for funds to support market development, research and design, infrastructure improvements, energy projects, or workforce training and development? Applications for the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative Primary Producer Impact Grant, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), will be available soon! The request for applications will be released on October 28th, and the application portal will be open from November 9 - December 16. The application is a two-stage process, and applicants who advance to the second round will be notified in early February 2023. The estimated project start date is early summer 2023.Applicants can apply for grants between $50,000 and $250,000 and must provide a 100% match. Only primary producers of farm and forest products are eligible to apply for the ARPA-Funded Primary Producer Impact Grant.
Pasture and Surface Water Fencing (PSWF) Program: Provides pasture management technical assistance and financial assistance to Vermont farmers to improve water quality and on-farm livestock exclusion from surface waters statewide. Applications accepted year-round.
Grassed Waterway and Filter Strip (GWFS) Program: Provides technical and financial assistance to Vermont farmers for in-field agronomic best practices to address critical source areas, erosion, and surface runoff. The Program’s goal is to reduce soil erosion and improve soil and water quality on cropland that contributes a disproportionately high level of nutrients in runoff. Such areas of cropland are considered “Critical Source Areas” (CSAs), representing a small proportion of the landscape yet a high proportion of nonpoint source pollution loads. Applications accepted year-round.
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP): A voluntary program designed to reduce sediment runoff and improve water quality by removing land from agricultural production and establishing vegetative buffers. State and federal funds are used to compensate landowners for the loss of productive agricultural land through upfront incentive payments and annual rental payments based on the total acreage dedicated to vegetated filter strips, forested buffers, or grassed waterways. Applications accepted year-round.
Thank You to Our Supporters!
Thank you to Salem Farm Supply, a supporting business member of the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition! They are the authorized dealer for Kubota, Case IH, Gehl, Krone and Kuhn/Knight farm equipment, serving New York and New England.
Our mission to assist all farmers in implementing innovative agricultural practices that enhance water quality, soil health, climate smart farming, and their economic resiliency in the Champlain Valley is generously supported by the