A Family Protects a Farm for Their Children
Driving north on Route 133 through Pawlet, you come around a bend and there it is: a beautiful white barn surrounded by fields that climb steadily west. The land has been in Diane Butler’s family for generations.
Until recently, Diane and her husband, Seth, were raising four children on a small farm nearby. The three oldest children helped to raise the animals. “We could see that their interest in farming was real; it wasn’t just a whim,” says Diane. “They wanted to… do more, but our property would only allow for so much.”
When Diane’s grandmother passed away, the future of the larger family farm came into question. The land was left to five siblings; none were interested in farming. Motivated by their children’s love of farming, Diane and Seth bought the farm and conserved it, thanks to funding from the Lookout Foundation and other private foundations.
“We hope we’re going to be here a long time,” explained Seth. “We hope that the farm will continue with our children, but even if it doesn’t, it will continue as a farm and that’s really important to us.”
The significance of conserving the farm is not lost on the children. “I spent a considerable amount of time here on the farm when I was younger,” said their 15-year-old daughter, Lily. “The idea of living and working here was just a dream. I appreciate the beauty of the land, often running to get the camera to take pictures of scenes that you’d usually only see on postcards; that beauty will remain and not be disturbed by development.”
The Butlers have aptly named their business Deep Roots Farm. They are expanding and letting the children further explore farming. In addition to learning to raise and sell pastured pork, meat chickens, grass-fed beef, and eggs, they research and experiment with techniques, such as rotational grazing.
Looking to the future, the Butlers envision the farm as a welcoming place. “We want to share the beauty of the property and eventually allow people to come onto the farm safely and responsibly to see where their food comes from,” says Diane. “It’s a very peaceful place.”
Farming is a family affair for the Butlers. “The idea of living and working here was just a dream,” says 15-year-old Lily.
Story by Joe Pasteris. Photos by David Middleton. This story appeared in our 2019-20 Year in Review.