Up in Franklin County, St. Albans and Swanton have some of the best farmland in Vermont. It’s also an area with high development pressure. Fortunately, landowners and conservationists have been working together for decades to protect this valuable resource. The two towns now have one of the largest contiguous blocks of conserved farmland in the whole Northeast. It spans 36 farms and over 8,000 acres of fertile and well-drained land that’s very easy to farm because the fields are large with excellent access.
“Some of the best land in New England”
More farmland was added to this block recently when Nelson Dairies West LLC conserved 240 acres in St. Albans. Almost all the land is tillable and very productive. It is used to grow corn and hay for a herd 2,500 cows and young stock. Conserving the land fits in well with their business plan. “We don’t want to see this land lost to housing development,” said Jacob Bourdeau, a business partner. “It’s too good a resource. It’s some of the best land in New England.”
The protection effort was initiated a few years ago by Dylan Nelson and his father Doug Nelson. They bought the farm from a conservation-minded farm family that has protected several nearby parcels. The father-son team ran it for several years while they pursued conservation with VLT’s help. The farm has changed hands but its protection as farmland is now complete.