Dairy Farm, Section of White River Are Now Protected in Tunbridge

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Front Page / Jul. 13, 2017 9:56am EDT


The pastoral beauty of the organic dairy farm owned by Corey and Ann Chapman is being conserved with help from the Vermont Land Trust. (Provided) The pastoral beauty of the organic dairy farm owned by Corey and Ann Chapman is being conserved with help from the Vermont Land Trust. (Provided) Tunbridge dairy farmers Corey and Ann Chapman have a cheerful household motto: “kids and cows.”

Though the saying is simple enough, life is very busy for the Chapmans as they go about managing five kids and 115 cows at their organic dairy farm along the First Branch of the White River in Tunbridge.

The Chapmans purchased their farm—the “first and last we’ll ever own,” said Ann—in September 2015. This year, they permanently conserved 60 acres of the land with the Vermont Land Trust. This past month, they added more protections to their conserved riverfront, which will help with water quality and flooding impacts.

In 2011, when he returned from service with the Marines in Afghanistan, Corey immediately accepted a position as herd manager at a Tunbridge dairy. Eventually, he was able to purchase the herd and secure financing for his own business— all the Chapmans needed was the land.

Corey saw a perfect opportunity to buy a farm he’d always admired, when Merle Howe II decided to sell the land that had been in his family for more than 100 years. Known as the Holstein Stock Farm, it had been a long time since cows were actually on the farm, though Corey and Ann had been leasing the cropland for a few years.

At that time, the Chapmans’ farm was based across the street at Howeacres—the same farm where his grandfather had gotten a job milking cows when he moved to Vermont from Newfoundland in 1945. The prospect of bringing cows back to the Holstein Stock Farm was particularly exciting for the Chapmans and many Tunbridge residents.

Before buying the property, Corey and Ann approached the Vermont Land Trust about conserving the farm. By selling conservation restrictions, which limit development of the land, the overall price would be reduced.

“We couldn’t have even considered buying the farm without the land trust’s help,” said Corey.

The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board awarded state funds, matched with federal funds from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to conserve the farm.

As part of the conservation effort, just under a half mile of frontage on the First Branch of the White River was protected through the land trust. Now there is a designated area within which the river can change course and shape without interference from dredging or manmade structures. This will reduce erosion and damage from future flooding, since the water is able to spread out and slow down. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation provided funding, which compensates farmers for protecting rivers.

The Chapmans also enrolled in Vermont’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, a voluntary program offered by the USDA Farm Service Agency and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. With this funding, a stretch of land 50 feet wide along the riverbanks will be fenced and planted with trees.

Forested riversides not only clean water by filtering it, they also provide shelter and food for animals both on land and in the water.

“Corey and Ann are excellent farm managers,” said Britt Haselton, farm project director with the Vermont Land Trust. “Since purchasing their farm, they’ve demonstrated a strong commitment to conservation and protecting water quality, and to educating the next generation about the importance of these measures.”

Last year, the Chapmans participated in the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program to install a new manure pit and concrete barnyard. This infrastructure will safely contain manure.

“By purchasing Merle’s farm … we will be able to remain in a vibrant agricultural community, crop much of the same beautiful organic land that we already have been, and most importantly grow our herd to a larger, more sustainable size for our future,” said Corey.

“This is very important if our children wish to continue Chapman Family Farm in Tunbridge,” he continued. “We wish to continue into the future, and pass love of the farm and the land down to our younger generation.”

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