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The Vermont Foodbank will be the new owner of the Kingsbury community farm on Route 100 in Warren.
Nine months after the town of Warren, a group of Mad River Valley (MRV) citizens and organizations, and the Vermont Land Trust purchased the Kingsbury farm, the Vermont Foodbank has been selected to become the next owner of the farm. The competitive proposal process ended last month as the committee evaluated proposals, seeking a farm owner to purchase the permanently protected farm and make it available for community uses, promote educational opportunities, and contribute to a community-based food system in The Valley.
The Vermont Foodbank is now under contract to purchase the 20.2-acre farm this winter and has committed to creating a fully functioning farm operation that will provide a wide variety of fresh produce for distribution to food shelves in the Mad River Valley and throughout Vermont's charitable food system.
EXCEEDED THE CRITERIA
"The Vermont Foodbank exceeded the criteria that the committee established through months of deliberations, community meetings and open houses," said Mac Rood, a member of the Kingsbury Community Farm Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives of the town of Warren, the Mad River Valley Localvore Project, the Mad River Valley Planning District, Friends of the Mad River and VLT.
"The Town of Warren's goals for this project will be met by the conservation easement, which will establish public access to the river by an extension of the Mad River Path and protect the farmland from future development. This appears to be the beginning of a promising partnership between The Valley and the Vermont Foodbank," said Rood.
In addition to the farming operation, the Vermont Foodbank plans to renovate the Kingsbury farmstead facility to provide a four-season space for community meetings, office space, and educational programs where the public can learn about the connections between agriculture and hunger in Vermont.
Workshops and volunteer activities on the farm will present opportunities for the local community to gain new skills related to agriculture. The Vermont Foodbank plans to partner with farmers in The Valley who can continue to provide food for distribution to local food shelves.
"Many low-income Vermont families simply cannot afford to purchase fresh, wholesome, locally grown produce," said Doug O'Brien, CEO of the Vermont Foodbank. "We are deeply grateful for the opportunity to acquire this farm and to ensure this sustainable source of healthy food for needy Vermonters in the Mad River Valley and throughout the state. We want to thank the citizens' committees of Warren and Waitsfield and the greater Mad River Valley community for approving this new enterprise to fight hunger and feed hope in Vermont."
The Vermont Foodbank will purchase the Kingsbury Farm for $225,000, its appraised value as a conserved farm. While the Vermont Land Trust purchased the farm for $495,000 last November, placing a conservation easement on the land allows VLT to sell the farm for less and guarantees the permanent protection and affordability of this agricultural resource for future generations. Over the next couple months a local fund-raising campaign will be necessary in order to purchase the conservation easement and complete the sale to the Vermont Foodbank.
In addition to the Kingsbury community farm, the Vermont Land Trust will soon announce additional farmland with which they wish to work with the community to protect in the Mad River Valley.
LOCALLY GROWN FOOD
"The Vermont Foodbank's purchase of the Kingsbury farm, and two additional farmland conservation projects in the works, will directly increase the amount of locally grown food that is available and affordable to area residents," said Liza Walker, Mad River Valley director for the Vermont Land Trust.
"To respond to the community's call for greater self-sufficiency in The Valley, VLT will need the generous support of the entire community. The long-term protection of agricultural land will make a difference for this generation and generations to come," she said.
A HUGE STEP
The Vermont Land Trust and the Mad River Valley Conservation Partnership have worked with local municipalities and landowners to complete 40 conservation projects in the past 25 years, conserving over 9,000 acres of farmland, town forests, wildlife habitat and family lands. More than 2,000 acres of conserved agricultural land are currently in active use by Valley farmers including the Turners, Neills, DeFreests, Gaylords, Carpenters, Geigers, Donald Joslin and Rootswork.
"I can't imagine a better buyer for the Kingsbury community farm, said Robin McDermott, co-founder of the Mad River Valley Localvore Project. "This is a huge step toward assuring that all residents of the Mad River Valley, regardless of their socio-economic status, have access to healthy and fresh local food."
The Vermont Foodbank is the state's largest hunger-relief organization, serving communities through a network of 270 food pantries, soup kitchen, shelters, senior centers and after-school programs. Last year, the Vermont Foodbank distributed nearly 6.5 million pounds of food to the more than 66,000 Vermonters who requested charitable food assistance. For facts and figures on hunger and poverty, to sign up to receive our newsletter, to find a food shelf in your community, and to learn about the Federal Nutrition Programs, visit us on the web at www.vtfoodbank.org .