Our Story & Mission

We are farmers. We know that some of the best things in life start with a single seed, and with care and cultivation, can flourish into something much larger and grander.

And so it can be said of us. We started as a little seed of an idea between a handful of farmers in 2012. With the help of UVM Extension staff in Middlebury, Vermont and a Conservation Innovation Grant from Vermont Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), we became the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition.

Today, we are dedicated to protecting water quality in Lake Champlain and supporting a thriving agricultural economy in Vermont. Our purpose is to assist farmers in adopting and implementing innovative agricultural practices to improve local farms’ economic resiliency and to promote environmental stewardship that improves and maintains the ecological integrity of Lake Champlain and its tributaries. 

We accomplish this through a positive and unified voice that provides targeted education and outreach to farmers and the public, and through facilitating communication between farmers, agencies, and non-governmental organizations in the spirit of working collaboratively to achieve common goals.

Since our inception, we have worked tirelessly to grow our membership, participate in difficult conversations around agriculture, water quality, and soil health, and educate each other and our communities. 

The partnership between the Coalition and UVM Extension’s Champlain Valley Crop, Soil & Pasture Team has proven to be a powerful alliance that has been a catalyst for action and change in Addison, Chittenden, Rutland, and Washington County farming communities. Many farms have begun adopting new and innovative practices that benefit the environment while proving they can also benefit the farm business. In addition, the Coalition has become an organization that is seen as a voice for farmers in the watershed and is often relied on to give input to governmental organizations and watershed groups.

But that’s just the surface of our story. Our love for the lake, the land, and the communities we live in is embodied by each of our members. We invite you to learn more about what they are doing on their farms to protect water quality and soil health today and for future generations. 

Caleb Smith is standing in the barn yard. A herd of jerseys are in the pen behind him. He is wearing jeans, boots caked in mud, and a light blue tee shirt.

Caleb Smith, Dorset Peak Jerseys

Caleb operates Dorset Peak Jerseys in Danby. He works mostly by himself, so capital invested wisely to make his days more productive and to achieve water quality improvements is important to him. Read more

Rob and Suzy Hunt pose beside the calf hutches at their farm. Several cute holstein calves are pictured. Snake Mountain is off in the distance.

Rob & Suzy Hunt, Bonaspecta Holsteins

Rob & Suzy Hunt own and operate Bonaspecta Holsteins in Addison, Vermont. Anyone who has ever been to their farm or talked with Rob knows that they take a very pragmatic approach to farming. Read more

Ray and Donna Brands are pictured with their award-winning corn. Ray holds an orange and blue award ribbon. They are both smiling at the camera.

Ray & Donna Brands, Deer Valley Farms

If you ask Ray Brands, he’ll say that award-winning crops start with the soil. “You’ve got to take care of it,” according to Ray. For him that means managing water with bedded fields and tile drainage, good nutrient management, fertility, and organic matter. Read more

Brian Kemp is standing in a pasture wearing a dark green tee shirt. He looks off into the distance, a herd of brown and white cows are behind him.

Brian Kemp, Mountain Meadows Farm

“We strive to educate other farmers, the general public, and state and federal agencies on the good things that are happening on our farms daily.” Read more

A head shot of Loren Wood smiling for the camera. Bales of hay are stacked behind him.

Loren Wood, Woodnotch Farms

Loren originally joined the Coalition because he wanted to do his part to make Lake Champlain cleaner for his grandchildren. Read more