NORWICH, VT — On Friday Dec.18 more than 50 farmers, Cooperative Extension, USDA officials and others gathered at the Norwich Farm campus of Vermont Technical College to launch the Connecticut River Farmers’ Watershed Alliance.
Upper Valley farmers Larry Scott, Jean Conklin, Walter Gladstone, joined others to listen and share ideas to actively address water quality concerns in the Upper Connecticut River Valley. This new watershed alliance will bring together a cohesive group to network together to help farmers, local landowners and local environmental groups collaborate on mutual objectives and shared responsibilities to help protect this river resource and its tributaries now and for future generations to come.
The economic viability of dairy agriculture in the Connecticut River Watershed is dependent upon environmental practices that improve the soil, air and water quality. The dairy industry encourages all sectors of agriculture as well as municipalities and others to join in recognizing our shared responsibility to sustain the environmental health of the watershed area. The Connecticut River Farmers’ Watershed Alliance is committed and dedicated to preserving the quality of our environment while maintaining a strong agricultural sector for the economic and social benefit of the region.
Reaching both sides of the Connecticut River are ongoing projects through UVM Extension in collaboration with UNH Extension regarding cover-cropping methods to prevent soil erosion from tilled agricultural fields. Both the Tullar Farm in Orford, NH and Knoxland Farms of Wells River and Bradford, VT are part of these research projects as they farm many acres along both sides of the Connecticut River.
On the other side of Vermont there is already a group, Champlain Valley Farmer’s Coalition that formed two years ago with nearly the same environmental goals as this new alliance. Both groups plan to share information and successful practices in a concerted effort to meet the requirements of Vermont’s Act 64.
This alliance is not being formed as a direct response to Act 64 and the required agricultural practices that will be coming in 2016 — farmers who have been the stewards of the land are forming the alliance as a result of decades of work. The purpose is to bring all the interested and varied groups together to work toward the mutual goals.
The next meeting of the newly formed alliance is scheduled for Jan. 13, 2016 at the Yankee Farm Credit office in White River Junction, VT. More details of that upcoming meeting will be announced soon.