Community and conservation partners support farm business at historic Jericho farm
A permanent home for a farm
Finding and buying farmland can be hard, especially for young farmers. Jake Kornfeld, Corinne Froning, Jacqueline Huettenmoser, Spencer Hardy, and Tucker Andrews know this only too well.
They are the farmers behind The Farm Upstream LLC, a collectively owned and operated diversified farm. They started out farming on leased land — growing certified organic vegetables on leased land in Richmond, Warren and Worcester, Vermont, and then selling and distributing their produce locally.
In September 2023, the collective bought a historic farm in Jericho — the 52-acre Hunt Farm on scenic Lee River Road in Jericho.
Jake Kornfeld said: “We’d been looking for land for several years. Our farm business needed a permanent home and relying on rented land is just too risky.”
The first-time landowners added the Hunt farm to their farm operation to establish more permanent roots, shift to land they own, and expand their business. The collective also conserved the land with us, protecting farmland, woods and a stretch of the Lee River.
“This farm is a perfect fit for us and conserving the land made it affordable,” Jake added.
The protected property consists of 32 acres of open agricultural land and 19 acres of wooded land, most of which is on the south side of Lee River, which flows through the property. Under the conservation easement, the wooded area along the river will be maintained for clean water and flood protection.
Historic Jericho farm gets a new lease of life
Maitland (Bud) Hunt and his wife Marjorie had acquired the Hunt Farm from Maitland’s father in the 1950s and stewarded it for decades. They used the land for their family dairy operation, and then leased it for many years to a local dairy farmer.
Bud and Marjorie’s daughter, Martha “Hunt” Prince, grew up on the property. In 2021, she became executor to the estate after the death of her mother. She wanted to realize her parents’ hope for the property to remain agricultural land forever. So she worked with conservation organizations and with The Farm Upstream.
“The farm has been in the family for several generations and has so much history,” said Martha. “These young farmers are just the right people to take over our family farm. They’re going to do what it takes to keep the farm thriving.”
Farmstand and community events planned
The farmer collective plans to set up a roadside farmstand on scenic Lee River Road in 2024. Located less than two miles from two schools, two town centers, the tourist corridor of Route 15, and a National Guard training site, the farmers expect that the farmstand will draw traffic for direct sales of produce and eggs, as well as for on-farm events. They plan to host community events and workdays to introduce the community to the farm.
In addition, the farmers plan to take advantage of the farm’s proximity to Burlington, Essex Junction, Williston and Richmond, and sell wholesale produce and eggs to local businesses. They are in conversation with City Market Co-op, Healthy Living, Feeding Chittenden and area restaurants, among others.
Partnership and community effort
The Jericho Underhill Land Trust (JULT) played an important role in generating local support for the effort. They spearheaded a local fundraising campaign and raised $20,000 from over 60 donors to close a funding gap.
“Beyond protecting rich soils for farming and a scenic vista,” said Olivia Strong of JULT, “this land will continue its agricultural heritage with another generation of farmers called The Farm Upstream. We are excited to watch a new beginning for an extraordinary farm.”
The project was also financially supported by the Town of Jericho’s new Conservation Reserve Fund and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board with matching funds from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.