Conservation Helps Farm Family Buy Their Own Land
The Vermont Land Trust helped Hadley and Mike Stock of Pink Boot Farm to buy 80 acres in Pawlet. The couple has raised pigs for years on a farm that they’d been renting nearby. This year they were able to buy their own farm in Pawlet, previously owned by two sisters – at a price they could afford. “Our family is able to live out our dream of farming sustainably, responsibly raised pastured pork, because of the Vermont Land Trust. Without their believing in us and our vision, and helping us with our farm purchase, we would not be able to farm,” said Hadley.
Beth Moser-Duquette, a former grade-school teacher, had known Hadley as a student. When she and her sister, Chris Moser, inherited their mother’s land, they wanted to see it protected from development. Helping Hadley and Mike settle their business on her family’s land also felt like the right thing to do. “Vermont Land Trust is an invaluable resource for protecting land and we really wanted to help get this young farm family started on having their own place,” said Beth.
The Moser family purchased the land in 1993, and enjoyed hunting and foraging in the woodland while raising sheep and pigs in the open areas. The land’s conservation makes sure that it will always remain available for agriculture, forestry and wildlife, and that it cannot be developed for commercial or industrial uses. The Moser Estate also provided short-term owner financing for the couple. The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board’s Farm and Forest Viability Program will help the Stocks build their business and prepare to refinance the loan.
Hadley and Mike are both very hard workers. Mike gets up at 3 a.m. every day to pick up whey from local cheesemakers to feed the pigs. They sell their pork to restaurants around the Mettowee Valley, and supplement their farm income by working with other farmers and food producers. But even with their hard work, they could not afford their own farm since land prices are so high.
“Mike and Hadley are working incredibly hard to realize their dream of raising pastured pork in a humane, healthy manner,” said Donald Campbell of the Vermont Land Trust. “Being the kind of people that always lend others a hand, they have had tremendous support from the community.”
The property has important natural features, including cliffs and wetlands. The wetlands are connected by a small stream, and are part of the headwaters of Wells Brook, a tributary to Lake Champlain. Conservation will protect water quality and habitat in the wetlands, streams and areas immediately surrounding them. Hadley and Mike are also protecting water quality by fencing their animals well away from the wetlands and working with the Vermont Department of Agriculture to build a manure composting site.
This project was made possible in part with funding provided by The Nature Conservancy under a grant from Keurig Green Mountain and by the New York Community Trust.