With great excitement, we report the purchase and conservation of the Hunt Farm by the young farmers called, The Farm Upstream. Thanks to tremendous community support, JULT was able to raise the $20,000 necessary to close the conservation easement funding gap with over 60 donors. Now, our community can look forward to a new generation of farmers working the scenic, agricultural land stretching along Lee River Rd. in Jericho. Here is what Jake Kornfeld from The Farm Upstream wrote about this amazing farming opportunity.
"Conserving the Hunt Farm means that the land will forever be kept open and available for agriculture. This is a parcel that deserves our appreciation and protection. We have grown even more sure of that after seeing how it fared in the recent flooding, during which all the fields drained well and stayed out of the river. That gives us confidence that as the world grows more turbulent in the coming years, this piece of land will still yield opportunities to produce food for the community, opportunities that very likely would have been lost forever without conservation.
Conservation would have been far more challenging without JULT support. Given Jericho's desirable location and this parcel's remarkable features, the easement value exceeded the amount we would have been able to secure with the Vermont Land Trust. Not only did JULT raise private funds for the easement, you also made us aware of the opportunities through the town conservation reserve fund and supported us through that application process. When we realized that the full easement value would be paid without us having to spend down all our cash savings we were elated. It means that we will have some money left after the property purchase to start to make our vision for the land a reality. The first project will be rehabilitating the old farmhouse to house two families. While that is happening, we will be working to turn the garage into a farm stand, which we hope to have up and running by next summer.
With the easement fundraising, we also gained a deeper appreciation of what a welcoming community we will be setting down roots in. Clearly, the Jericho community values its agricultural lands and is seeking more opportunities to engage with them. We're looking forward to providing that engagement!
As we restore the infrastructure in the coming seasons, we will be working just as hard to restore the soil. The "parent soil" at the farm is excellent, but years of taking off hay without amendment have left the soils lacking in immediately usable nutrients. We will be implementing diversified fruit and vegetable cropping systems that improve the land even as we harvest crops from it. There are a thousand things we want to do, but realistically, it's all going to shift as we get to know the farm and the community better. That said, our first steps in production will be a market garden providing the fresh, healthy foods we've all come to appreciate from local growers, a laying hen flock, and the planting of berries and fruit trees."