How do our farmers help make us more climate-resilient?
As part of our Climate Farmer Stories project, Vital Communities asked local artists to make portraits of farmers who are using climate-friendly agricultural techniques. Click the “Learn More” buttons to learn about each farm’s practices.
- Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center
- Cedar Mountain Farm
- Green Mountain Girls Farm
- Kiss The Cow Farm
- Luna Bleu Farm
- Moon and Stars
- Open Woods Farm
- Root 5 Farm
- Silloway Maple
- Sunrise Organic Farm
- Sweetland Farm
- Walpole Valley Farms
- Winter Street Farm
Cedar Circle Farm and Education Center
225 Pavillion Rd., East Thetford, VT
Art by Cecily Anderson
Products: Certified Organic produce, fruit, flowers and nursery
Where to buy: Farmstand and Cafe open April-December (hours online)
“We are dedicated to agricultural scientific research in the public interest, and to providing agricultural education and training.
Over the 20 years of our existence, the Farm’s practices have evolved to incorporate regenerative organic farming, which works to restore soil health, and in turn, the health of plants, people, and the planet.
An entire ecosystem of microorganisms and fungi exists below our feet! Thriving soil life draws carbon out of the atmosphere and fixes it into the soil, thereby restoring a natural carbon sink. Carbon sinks are good! They benefit soil health and plant growth while lowering greenhouse gas emissions in the process.
To support healthy, resilient soil, we are transitioning to no-till farming. This goes hand in hand with our use of cover crops, which are planted in between main cash crop cycles. The seed mixture is specifically chosen to fix nutrients into the soil that the past cash crop has used or that the next crop will need. Cover crops also create a blanket of plant matter that protects soil and inhibits weed growth. Common cover crops at Cedar Circle Farm are winter rye and hairy vetch, oats and peas, or yellow clover.
We regularly test our soils for organic matter (think carbon!) and nutrients, and enhance plant and soil health with Korean Natural Farming methods.”
Listen to Farm Manager Stacy Cooper talk about no-till farming practices.
Cedar Mountain Farm
Stephen Leslie + Kerry Gawalt
25A Linden Rd, Hartland, VT
Art by Janet McKenzie
Products: Milk, cheese, beef, vegetables, herbs
Where to buy: Order online and pick up, farm stand open Thursdays year round, milk available 7 days a week.
“As farmers who work with draft horses and maintain a dairy cow herd, we are operating on the premise that livestock are the essential component to land restoration.
The second major component of building soil on our farm is the use of cover crops. Composted manures from our horses and dairy cows along with cover crops feed the land. We do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Cover crop seed is accounted for as a fertilizer expense within the farm budget. We are using no-dig methods, which we switched over to in 2020.
But to solve the climate crisis, we need systemic change. As a nation, we need to elevate healthy soil as an essential ingredient to mitigating global warming. Soil is such a critical resource that we can no longer leave its management unregulated. Ownership or leasehold or any other form of land tenure can no longer mean free license to degenerate or destroy soil. Government must protect this resource and offer transformational incentives for the adoption and maintenance of soil health management systems.
By offering incentives and technical assistance, every farm in Vermont can be transitioned to produce a wide diversity of annual and perennial crops. It’s not a matter of getting rid of cows—it’s a matter of adding back in everything else.”
-Stephen Leslie, Cedar Mountain Farm
Green Mountain Girls Farm
923 Loop Road, Northfield, VT
Art by LMNOPI
Products: Pasture-raised meats and regenerative veggies, fruits and more. Farm stays & tours.
Where to buy: Farm shares, seasonal farmstand, and Northfield Farmers Market.
“Many who raise livestock on pasture call themselves grass farmers, and we hold that as a proud label for our work.
But our more primary identity is as ‘relationship farmers,’ keenly attending to interrelationships and thinking in terms of systems. For example, we nurture connections between invisible fungal structures in our soil and root systems to grow food that is both more nutrient dense and less labor intensive than conventional organic agriculture.”
Kiss The Cow Farm
Lisa + Randy Robar
2248 Royalton Turnpike, Barnard, VT
Art by Cecily Anderson
Products: Certified Organic, grass-fed, A2 raw & pasteurized milk; ice cream; vegetables.
Where to buy: Farm store is always open at 2248 Royalton Turnpike, Barnard, VT. CSA available. Products sold at various Upper Valley farmers markets and retailers. www.kissthecowfarm.com
“We want to feed our community responsibly. Kiss the Cow Farm is 100 percent grass-fed utilizing millions of solar panels to grow the food our cows eat. Grass blades capture the sun’s energy and through photosynthesis move carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil. And carbon stored in soil stays there a long time. Grass also helps control temperature through evaporation.
Managed correctly, cows become an asset to fighting climate change because they improve soil microbial life. Their hooves disturb the ground so moisture and nutrients in their manure can nourish the soil. We rotationally graze our cows, which allows the plants to regrow and establish deeper roots improving soil health while keeping the carbon in the soil.
Seaweed is another sustainable part of their diet, which studies have found reduces methane production by 80 percent.
We’re striving to minimize external inputs, harvest the sun’s energy, grow soil fertility, and store carbon. The result? Local food that’s good for you, good for our planet.”
Luna Bleu Farm
96 Boles Rd, South Royalton, VT
Suzanne Long and TimSanford
Art by Katie Runde
Products: Organic vegetables, chicken, and eggs
Where to buy: CSA memberships; Norwich Farmers Market, South Royalton Market
“At Luna Bleu, we have always tried to view the farm as an ecosystem full of cycles, webs of relationship and energy flows. As farmers, our role is to nurture this ecosystem and build biodiversity. But the fact is, we are still functioning as farmers in an extractive capitalist economic system that has no root in ecosystem health.
When we depend on our farm income to pay the mortgage, utilities, insurance, medical bills, etc., it slows the work we need to do to heal and reintegrate a farm into the restorative wisdom of natural cycles and relationships. We have been doing this farming thing for over 30 years and too many of those early years were about economic survival and stable land access. What really kept us going, especially in those lean years, was our relationships with other farmers, community, and all the individuals, organizations, and businesses—building cycles of mutual aid and learning, webs of relationships and networks, and the flow of energy and support and a diversity of ideas, experiences, and talents.”
-Suzanne Long, Luna Bleu Farmer
Moon and Stars
Moon and Stars at Black Lives Matter House, 53 Park St. South Royalton, VT
Art by Misoo Bang
Products: Moon and Stars arepas, made from regeneratively grown corn
Where to buy: Upper Valley Food Co-op, South Royalton Market, Free Verse Farm Shop, Littleton Co-op, Cedar Circle Farm, and other farm stands. Retail location opening soon in South Royalton.
“What if we could grow an heirloom corn, produce a traditional arepa, and help regenerate ecology and community?
Moon and Stars works to promote the accessibility and wider understanding of the cultural importance of corn. We also seek to ensure the redevelopment of lost and endangered varieties of heritage corn. The organization utilizes regenerative farming techniques and heritage culinary practices to create a deeper understanding and appreciation of corn and its sacred and vital role in native cultures throughout the Americas.
By partnering with like-minded small farms and markets to source ethically grown produce to create our recipes, we are contributing to the resiliency of community, decreasing our dependency on industrial agriculture, and reducing our carbon footprint while co-creating a thriving, multicultural, and just local food system.”
Open Woods Farm
1061 Kinsman Highway
Pictured: Sayer Palmer
Art by Joan Hanley
Products: Certified Organic vegetables, eggs, maple syrup
Where to buy: Where to buy: CSA memberships, Canaan Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market, Online Market
“Off-grid, solar-powered, minimal-tillage, soil-based, gravity-fed, micro-irrigation, on-farm composting, cover cropping, season extension… it all happens here. But none of these efforts matter without a farm business that is community based.
Connecting with the community through a commitment to local markets and a stake in the local economy has shifted climate conversations from a politicized national level to a meaningful community level. When a neighbor’s well-being is affected by unprecedented drought or overwhelming rain, activism around systemic change becomes less radical and more urgent.
Open Woods is a Certified Organic vegetable farm on the side of the hill in the middle of a forest. I grow a huge amount of food on half an acre of land and sell almost exclusively to the Mascoma Valley region of New Hampshire. My priority is community-centered farming: direct sales, mutual aid shares, food scrap collection, honest conversation, and sharing joy in beautiful food.”
Root 5 Farm
2340 US Rte. 5 N., Fairlee, VT
Danielle Allen + Ben Dana
Art by Cecily Anderson
Products: Certified Organic vegetables, Powerkraut
Where to buy: CSA shares available.
Co-op Food Stores and multiple independent food markets around the Upper Valley.
“We are dedicated to growing practices that use a holistic approach to soil fertility and plant health. We build our soil through crop rotation, cover cropping, and minimal tillage.”
1303 Boudro Rd., Randolph Center, VT
Pictured: Paul Silloway, Marilyn Lambert + Paul Lambert
Not pictured: Bette Silloway
Art by Katie Runde
Products: Solar- and wood-powered maple products
Where to buy: Online and at the Sugarhouse Store, open for tours and sales Monday–Saturday, 10–5
“It’s satisfying to allow the landscape to remain in its natural state while producing a natural, local food.
At Silloway Maple, we use regenerative ‘a husband to the woods’ management, solar power, reverse osmosis, and traditional wood fire to evaporate the sap. Reverse osmosis (r.o.) is simply the pumping of the raw sap through semi-permeable membranes to remove part of the water, as the concentrated sugar and minerals are sent to the evaporator. Solar panels provide the energy for the reverse osmosis process. In our size maple operation, without the r.o., it would take approximately 1,000 cords of firewood to produce 12,000 gallons of maple syrup. With it, it only takes about 50 cords. ‘Only’ said to show you the comparison—50 cords is still a lot to cut, split, bundle, move again, and throw, piece by piece, into the arch at sugaring time!”
Sunrise Organic Farm
1759 North Hartland Road
White River Jct., VT
Pictured: Chuck Wooster
Art by Danielle Festa
Products: Certified Organic vegetables, chicken, eggs, lamb, and maple syrup
Where to buy: CSA memberships available in the spring;
farmstand open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11-6, May-October
“Farming is, at its core, carbon management. We take sunlight, mix it with carbon (from the air) and water (from the soil), and create food. Might be direct crops like carrots and potatoes, or indirect ones like eggs and lamb, or indirect-indirect ones like honey and venison. Done properly, farming mimics the natural ecosystem around itself and adds carbon to the soil as a result of its activities. Compost, cover crops, rotational grazing, minimal tillage, and thoughtful management of adjacent forests and lands are all tools in the sustainable toolbox.
In 2020, we decided to up our game by building a carbon management facility on the farm. It has two parts: 30 kW of solar power on the roof, providing enough electricity to power 100 percent of our farm operations; and six bays of actively managed compost space on a concrete slab under the roof. The compost facility allows us to take food scraps from our community and turn them back into food. Pretty straightforward.”
742 Route 132, Norwich, VT
Art by Cecily Anderson
Products: Organic vegetables, fruit, pastured meat and hay
Where to buy: Sweetland Farmstand; CSA shares available.
“Sweetland has always raised our crops as sustainably as possible. But in 2018, we made a ‘90 in 10 Crazy Carbon Emissions Pledge’ to reduce our farm’s fossil carbon emissions by 90 percent over the course of 10 years.
It’s an ambitious goal, but when we started scratching our heads about what we needed to do to erase fossil carbon from the farm, things actually started to seem pretty doable.
We are focusing on three main areas;
- Increase the efficiency of our equipment and practices
- Replace fossil-burning equipment with electric or other renewable fuels
- Install PV solar on rooftops to generate the needed energy to grow food for our community
Four growing seasons into our pledge, we are making great headway! We have upgraded all of our walk-in coolers (our biggest electricity hogs) with high-efficiency refrigeration, installed solar panels on our barn, farmstand, and crew house, swapped an ancient oil furnace for an air-source heat pump in our farm crew house after adding 4 inches of insulation and double pane windows, and changed three of our irrigation pumps from gas to electric. Next up: turning off the propane tap in our greenhouses and heating them with wood chips from our own forest, and swapping our main tillage tractor from diesel to electric! You can check on our progress towards fulfilling our ‘crazy’ pledge at sweetlandfarmvt.com/us/90-in-10-our-carbon-emissions-pledge”
Walpole Valley Farms
663 Wentworth Road, Walpole, NH
Pictured: Ozzie Mae, farm staff.Not pictured: Chris + Caitlin Caserta
Art by Misoo Bang
Products: Pasture raised meat: chicken, pork, beef, lamb, turkey
Where to buy: Order online for weekly delivery. Farm store open weekends 10-4. Visit the Inn and The Hungry Diner, our farm-to-table restaurant, year round.
“Since we began grazing multiple species through the pastures here at Walpole Valley Farms, we’ve seen an explosion in biodiversity and water retention in our pastures and woodlands.
It’s amazing how quickly positive change can be seen with relatively simple practices and minimal machinery. We believe that through holistic farming techniques that used to be commonplace for our ancestors and the indigenous people of this area, we can heal the soil while also raising nutrient-dense meats and vegetables for the community.
We use holistic management practices with our animals in order to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration. The water retention of our soil has improved remarkably since we began holistically grazing in 2006. Proper water retention is due to the amazing root structure of the grasses which helps our farm to avoid flooding events, keeping the soil in place for generations to come.”
Winter Street Farm
Abby Clarke + Jonathan Hayden
Winter Street Farm
344 Winter Street, Claremont, NH
Art by Cecily Anderson
Products: Certified Organic vegetables, herbs & flowers
Where to buy: CSA shares available in early spring. Farmstand open to members & the public:
Tu/Thu 2-7pm & Sat 10am-3pm
“ Winter Street is a no-till, organic family farm that grows nutrient-dense food for our community.
Our goal is to grow all the produce a healthy family could need, making your life easier with daily staples, and hopefully a taste of some veggies you may have never tried.”