April, 2018

Conservation Road Signs “For My Land, For Our Water”

Do the people driving down your road recognize cover cropping when they see it?  Do they notice a field where “no-till” planting is building soil health?  Do they appreciate the importance of growing permanent grass, especially on our most vulnerable soils?

New roadside signs developed by the Franklin County Conservation District (website hyperlinked) are available to celebrate examples of such conservation practices!  The tag-line, “For my land, for our water” conveys the benefits the landowner sees in soil health, stream-bank stabilization, and crop productivity, as well as the water quality benefits that everyone appreciates.

The FWA purchased 65 signs to give to our members for free!  30 for cover cropping, 20 for growing grass, and 15 for no-till.  These signs will be distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis – so please email us at FarmersWatershedAllianceNW@gmail.com if you would like some signs for your fields!

Placement and storage considerations:

  • Place signs more than 14 feet from the white line of any state roads or they will be picked up by the state highway crews. Restrictions on town roads may vary.
  • Place your signs where they will be visible from the road, and not blocked by growing vegetation.
  • Remove and store your signs when the practice you are advertising is no longer obviously visible (e.g. cover crop has been terminated.)
  • Remove and store your signs before winter. With proper care, signs should last two or more seasons.
  • Take a picture with the sign, the practice you are promoting (and yourself, if you wish!) and send it to FranklinCountyNRCD@gmail.com and/or FarmersWatershedAllianceNW@gmail.com. Your pictures will be used to further promote the good work farmers are doing.

Product specs:

  • 18” x 24”
  • Double-sided
  • Full color
  • Wire H-frame stake included
  • UV-resistant

 

2018 Annual Meeting

The Farmer’s Watershed Alliance’s 2018 Annual Meeting was held at the St. Albans Elks Lodge 1566 on Thursday, April 12th.  There were 68 attendees – check out some highlights below!

 

The evening began with opening remarks from our Chair, Darlene Reynolds.  She gave an introduction, spoke of the importance of getting farmer’s stories in the media, Vermont’s current agricultural climate, and the ways in which the FWA supports our members. 

 

Guests then enjoyed a delicious dinner catered by Dairy Center Catering!  After dinner there was a series of presentations.  Catherine Davidson, FWA Program Coordinator, showcased the FWA’s 2017 achievements as well as 2018 projects that farmer’s can get involved with.

Accomplishments:

  • Hiring of a full-time Program Coordinator – August 2017
  • Updated website/web presence
  • Building and implementing a cloud-based online database system for membership
  • Additional funding awarded through writing successful grant/contract proposals/applications
  • FWA’s first Precision Agriculture Forum – January 2018
  • FWA’s first booth at the Vermont Farm Show – January/February 2018
  • The 6 AerWays FWA owns – used on 978 acres over 7 farms
  • Installing 3 Grassed Waterways on Farms this spring with funding awarded through the Lake Champlain Basin Program

2018/2019 Projects to get involved in:

  • Grassed Waterways and Filter Strips program funded by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture
  • 5-part Precision Agriculture on Farms in Vermont Video Series funded by the Lake Champlain Basin Program

 

Heather Darby, FWA Treasurer, gave a presentation on the UVM Extension Northwest Crops & Soils Team/FWA ongoing Tile Drainage project, followed by a legislative update.

 

Jeff Sanders, FWA’s Farm Assessment Coordinator, talked about the work FWA has accomplished through the VAAFM Northlake contract.  A total of $115,000 has been spent by VAAFM thus far on these projects.  We have 7 contracted projects, of which 2 have been completed:

  1. Excavate fallen manure stack from man-made pond -> Completion of this project has reduced the potential for nutrients to leach into Lake Carmi and conservation habitat
  2. Barnyard improvement, clean water diversion, lane-way improvement -> Completion of this project has reduced nutrient loss to surface waters and improved the barnyard making for happier cows!

 

‘Remembering Dick Longway’:  The FWA played an Across the Fence clip of when Dick won ‘2010 Vermont Dairy Farmer of the Year’.  His family was given a plaque by the FWA recognizing him as a leader in the agricultural community, being on the forefront of implementing and promoting land stewardship on farms in Vermont.

 

The evening closed with a comedy & music performance by comedian Rusty DeWees!

 

Thank you to all of our members and sponsors who made this evening possible:

 

H730 Proposes to Deem Lake Carmi a “Lake in Crisis”

Your fellow farmers need your support!

As part of Vermont’s agricultural community, you likely know that there has been tremendous pressure on farms that live and grow crops in the Lake Carmi Watershed.  A bill sitting in Montpelier (H730 – hyperlinked for reference) may actually get passed.  This bill would allow ANR to cease all agricultural activities in the watershed if necessary, deeming Lake Carmi a “lake in crisis”.

Over the past few weeks, the farmers in the Lake Carmi Watershed have been working with unbiased UVM Extension to pull together information to present in Montpelier.  This information clearly shows the amazing job this group is doing to reduce their impact on Lake Carmi.

On Thursday, April 12th from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. we will have an opportunity to present this information to Ag and Natural Resource Committees in a joint hearing in Montpelier.

We are asking FWA members join the hearing to support their fellow farmers in Lake Carmi.  You will not need to say anything – just be there for the others that will.

If you can attend please contact Jeff or Heather or email FarmersWatershedAllianceNWgmail.com ASAP – we would like to setup a carpool.

If you cannot attend but would like to watch, the FWA will be Live Streaming this meeting from the Franklin Grand Isle County Farmer’s Watershed Alliance Facebook page.