Two farms in Weybridge sustain farming and environment, including sections of the Otter Creek and the Lemon Fair River
Seventh-generation Vermonter conserves 266 acres of Champlain Valley farmland
Seventh-generation Vermonter Roger Wales protected land in Weybridge that his family has farmed since the 1940s. After the family dairy ceased operations in the 1970s, Roger used the land to produce wheat, oats, corn, beef and most recently, goat milk, which he sold to Vermont Butter & Cheese.
“In my situation, conservation was the right decision,” said Roger. “I’m in my 80s and I have no family that is interested in owning the farm. So, conserving the land ensures that it will remain in agriculture and not be developed.”
The productive, open land is rented by neighboring dairy, Monument Farms, which has used the land to grow hay and corn for about 10 years.
Monument Farms manages over 1,000 acres of conserved farmland
In operation in Weybridge since 1930, family-owned Monument Farms is the only large-scale milk processor in Vermont that sells milk exclusively from their own herd.
They conserved 182 acres used for corn and hay, located less than a quarter mile away from the land they lease from Roger Wales.
The fourth-generation farm family has been a strong partner in farm conservation for many years. They now own and farm over 1,000 acres of protected Champlain Valley farmland.
“Our family, and our business, is very connected to the land,” said farm manager Peter James. “We want to see the Lemon Fair River corridor protected from development and the land kept available for farming and wildlife. Conserving the land also makes it more affordable for us and for future owners.”
Conservation of these farms ensures that the land will stay in the hands of working farmers should they be sold out of the family or farm business.
The newly protected land is adjacent to other conserved Champlain Valley farmland and state-owned lands, now totaling over 4,400 acres across the towns of Weybridge and Addison.
Restoration work will support clean water in Creek and Lake Champlain
Roger Wales’s farm sits along over a mile and a half of Otter Creek, and several streams on the property flow into the creek. His land lies just upstream from where the Otter Creek meets the Lemon Fair River.
And, the Monument Farms land is located where the Lemon Fair River and Otter Creek meet. Restoration efforts are planned for a half-mile section of riverside land.
Rare forest, wetlands provide wildlife habitat
The Monument Farms land has an area with the rare valley clayplain forest. This type of forest was common before the Champlain Valley was cleared for farming, but little of it remains today. The remaining forest provides important wildlife habitat.
There are also two large, forested wetlands with hemlock, black ash, American elm, and musclewood trees. The conservation easement protects the wetlands and clayplain forest.