By Lisa Loomis 

Timbers to rebuild the Turner dairy barn were milled and delivered this week and concrete footings were set at the Waitsfield farm where a barn collapsed during a Valentine's Day storm.

The Valentine's Day blizzard caused the collapse of the farm's heifer barn, which killed 5 cows and displaced 16 cows. Community members have rallied to help the Turners rebuild their barn. While work on the ground is underway, other volunteers have secured a matching grant from the Preservation Trust of Vermont for $5000 towards the estimated $50,000 to $60,000 needed to rebuild the barn. The Turners' insurance did not cover the blizzard caused collapse.


Close to 50 people attended a community meeting on Thursday, February 22, to learn about the project to rebuild the barn. Doug Turner, his wife Sharon, his mother Marion, and his brother Ed were all on hand to thank the community for the outpouring of support they have received.  

Charlie Hosford, who is managing the rebuilding project, took the opportunity to have the family talk about their farm. Doug Turner reported that 12 of their cows were temporarily relocated to an organic farm in Middlebury and 4 of their cows were at a farm in Cabot. One of the cows, whose bloodline extended for five generations with the Turner family, was still suffering from injuries and it is still not known whether or not she will survive.  
Hosford described the demolition and reconstruction progress on the barn, to date. It is now estimated that the materials for the new barn will cost around $25,000. Hosford is planning that the labor will be done by volunteers and has already received offers to help with the work from many community members. On Monday of this week concrete footings were poured and, once cured, the space can be backfilled and construction on the barn can begin.  
Late last week the Preservation Trust of Vermont offered a $5,000 Challenge Grant to support the barn rebuilding project. Director Paul Bruhn told Robin McDermott, who is helping to organize a fund-raising effort for rebuilding the barn, "We're really happy to be able to help the community effort to rebuild the Turner barn. The historic Turner barn was one of the barn rehabilitation projects we supported several years ago as part of a partnership we had with the Freeman Foundation and the Vermont Land Trust. Perhaps more importantly, our support is recognition of the enormous outpouring of community support in the Mad River Valley for the Turner barn."
The challenge grant will match every $2 raised by the community for the barn rebuilding fund with $1 from the Preservation Trust up to $5,000. While several different fund-raising efforts are underway, the Preservation Trust grant is specifically for rebuilding the barn. Donations for the barn rebuilding effort are being accepted by the Center for Whole Communities and the Preservation Trust. To date, $3,490 in donations has been received by those organizations with another $4,500 in pledged donations. "This is a great opportunity for contributors to literally get more for their money. If I donate $100, with the Preservation Trust's 2-to-1 match, my contribution is really worth $150," said McDermott.  


She continued, "But, even once we raise the $10,000 needed to get the full $5,000 grant from Preservation Trust, we will still need to raise another $10,000 to meet the anticipated $25,000 in building supplies. I know that our community can do it and we are actively seeking out other organizations that, like the Preservation Trust, would be willing to offer another challenge grant to help us achieve our fund-raising goal."
Mad River Valley businesses have also gotten involved in fund raising. In addition to donation jars that have been placed in stores throughout The Valley, the Waitsfield Wine Shoppe will be donating five percent of their wine sales on Saturday, March 3, to the Calf Replacement Fund and American Flatbread will be holding a benefit bake on Friday, March 9, where $4 of each flatbread sold will go a fund to help the Turner farm.

Several area businesses have been helping with the rebuilding efforts from demolition (DuBois Construction) to excavation (Fred Viens and Company) to pouring the concrete footings (Kevin Streeter and Streeter Concrete) to offering building supplies at just above cost (Allen Lumber) and equipment. Hartshorn has spent the past week at his sawmill preparing lumber that will be used in the new building. Work crews have been eating well, thanks to the many food contributions that have been made to the Turners.  
To contribute to the Barn Rebuilding Fund: Donations less than $500 should be made out to The Center for Whole Communities - Turner Barn with "Turner Barn Fund" in the memo line and sent to 700 Bragg Hill Road, Fayston, VT  05673. Donations of $500 or more should be made out to the Preservation Trust of Vermont with "Turner Barn Fund" in the memo line. The Preservation Trust has asked that Mad River Localvores collect the checks made out to them and present them to them all at once. Checks can be made out to the Preservation Trust and mail to Ray Mikulak, P.O. Box 449, Waitsfield, VT 05673. Contact Ray Mikulak or McDermott at 496-3567 with questions about donations.
For photos and information on the Turner Barn Project, visit www.VermontLocalvore.org/turner.