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Forging ahead at Champlain Valley Farm

3 min read / February 28, 2023 / By Rachel Mullis

The enterprising farmer behind Champlain Valley Farm runs a thriving operation: part pig farm, part firewood enterprise, part haying business.

Champlain Valley Farm: born out of a passion for farming

It started about ten years ago, when a sixteen-year-old named Ethan Gevry called us. He wanted to talk about buying his grandparents’ dairy farm in Addison, Vermont.

“It’s the only time in my career I’ve been contacted by a high school student,” said VLT’s Adam Piper. “He wanted to know what he could do to raise the capital and was talking about his plans. I thought it was amazing.”

Ethan’s drive was undeniable. In 2014 he received one of our Land Stewards Awards. We give the awards to high school juniors and seniors in Vermont’s agriculture and forestry programs. He was nominated for his exemplary work raising beef cows and pigs, and growing corn and hay on the family farm.

Over the next few years, Ethan raised pigs and saved money to grow his business, Champlain Valley Farm. His goal was to buy the conserved family farm, which he’d been renting. He also wanted to expand the business by putting up five pig barns. By 2018 he was close, but needed some support.

So we worked with the family to strengthen the existing conservation easement on the land. We added language that ensures the farm will stay in the hands of working farmers should it be sold out of the family. Because these additional protections qualified for conservation grant funding, Ethan was able to buy the Addison farm – he was 21 years old (pictured here).

Support to grow and diversify

For now, selling Champlain Valley Farm is the furthest thing from Ethan’s mind.

At any given time, he’s managing about a thousand hogs in his pig barns. He’s the primary pork supplier for Black River Produce. Black River is a Vermont company that distributes his meat to thousands of wholesale customers across New England.

Ethan recently told us that he hopes to pass on the farm to his own children. He’s grateful the partnership with VLT has allowed him to grow and diversify.

“Your average person can’t afford to go out and do this,” he said, as he hunkered down to scratch the head of an especially curious piglet. “It’s a big gamble, but I like providing for people.”

“And, you know,” he added, “I really like pigs.”

“Ethan is a smart, hardworking farmer, with a strong head for business,” said Adam. “Young entrepreneurs like him are the future of Vermont farming, and we’re honored to support them.”

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