The Barber Farm has been part of the Jericho community for generations. As a result of a broad community effort, the farm will continue to provide local food for years to come. In October 2010, the Vermont Land Trust announced that the Barber Farm was conserved. The conservation of the land will limit development and will keep the land affordable to future farmers.
The farm’s history goes back to 1774, when it was the third property settled in Jericho. The property’s current owners, Charlie and Jean Siegchrist, and their family have used the land for farming for more than 60 years. At one time, Charlie and Jean had 40 acres of fruits and vegetables.
Barber Farm, now a non-profit, is being hayed and is growing several acres of vegetables for distribution to hunger action agencies, as it has for the past 10 years.
To protect their farm from future development, the Siegchrists worked with the Vermont Land Trust and the Jericho Underhill Land Trust to place a conservation easement on the property. A conservation easement is a legal tool that limits development on productive farmland and forestland, and other meaningful natural and community places. Landowners continue to own, manage, and pay taxes on the land and can sell their land; however, the conservation easement permanently remains on the property.
The Siegchrists generously sold the conservation easement for significantly less than market value. “This land has great history and beauty,” said Jean. “It has provided a living to many and has been loved by generations. Keeping the land open and available for farming is the right thing to do for future generations of community and neighbors.”
“Permanently protecting 148 acres of Barber Farm for agriculture ensures that this historic property will continue to produce fresh, local food and enrich Jericho's farming heritage,” said Livy Strong, board chair of the Jericho Underhill Land Trust.
The conservation of the farm was supported by a grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, funding from the Town of Jericho, and over a hundred individuals who contributed more than $20,000 in a local fundraising effort.
The conservation easement includes a public spur trail from existing trails on the conserved Kikas Valley Farm to the top of the Barber Farm meadows, offering views of Camel’s Hump. It also allows for a future trail extension along the western edge of the meadows.
“Agricultural land with good soils, in close proximity to population centers and markets, has always been in demand by farmers, but that is often where the highest development pressures are.” said Bob Heiser, Champlain Valley project manager for the Vermont Land Trust. To ensure that the farm will always be affordable for farmers to purchase, VLT will maintain the right to buy the farm at its agricultural value if a potential buyer is a non-farmer.