Farmers, state and conservation organizations work together for clean water, flood resilience and wildlife habitat

Joe Tisbert has worked the land with his wife, Anne Marie, since 1992. That’s when they first conserved their 306-acre Valley Dream Farm to protect it from development.

A well-known farm at the western base of Mt. Mansfield, Valley Dream has evolved from dairy to organic vegetables and flowers. The Tisberts run a CSA and farm store, host on-farm dinners and events. They also supply local schools with produce for school lunch programs. Their daughter, Becky Tisbert, runs a flower business, Snaps and Sunflowers, on the farm.

Joe Tisbert is President of the Vermont Farm Bureau. Anne Marie serves on the Bureau’s Board of Directors.

Nearly five miles of frontage and 40 acres of wetlands protected

In March 2023, they enhanced protections on 64 acres of their conserved farm. The added protections will benefit clean water and wildlife habitat. They will also reduce negative impacts from future floods.

“I’m happy we were able to work with VLT and preserve the river corridor for future generations,” said Anne Marie. “The funds from this program helped us with long-needed farm projects.”

Four people standing in a room smiling at the camera; two holding a large sign that says Vermont Land Trust. Joe Tisbert and and Anne Marie Tisbert of Valley Dream Farm, with VLT staffers

From left to right, Joe Tisbert and Anne Marie Tisbert of Valley Dream Farm, with VLT staffers Christy and Allaire at the project closing to protect the Seymour River

The Tisberts worked with several partners on the clean water project. Partners included the Lamoille County Conservation District, the Rivers Program and the Wetlands Program of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and VLT. Nearly five miles of frontage along the Seymour River and its streams, as well as 39 acres of connected wetlands have been protected.

Part of the Lamoille River watershed, the Seymour River begins in Underhill on the slopes of Mt. Mansfield. It flows for nine miles to the Lamoille River in Cambridge, and drains nearly 23 square miles of land.

The Tisbert farm is fairly high up in the watershed. The river there is small and fast-moving as it comes off the mountain, and then meanders more when it reaches Pleasant Valley.

Allowing space for the river to flow and meander naturally, and move freely within its floodplain, helps slow water during heavy rains and reduces flood damage downstream. It will also keep water cleaner and improve habitat for fish and other animals.

“We’ve seen the Seymour move over time and we know it will keep shifting in the future,” explained VLT’s Allaire Diamond. “Natural solutions like this can help us improve how land is managed to benefit clean water.”

Popular bike trails at Valley Dream Farm to continue

For several years, the Tisberts have hosted recreation trails maintained by the Brewster River Mountain Bike Club on their land. The farm also hosts an informational kiosk for the club and parking for bikers. The Tisberts worked closely with DEC scientists and the club to ensure that the bike trails could coexist with the restoration project.

The project was funded by the DEC.