Sixty-six acres of farmland that is part of the Spaulding farm in Waitsfield will be purchased by the Vermont Land Trust and conserved. The land is located between Tremblay Road at the south, the Mad River on the west and north sides and a tree on the east side.
The land trust is purchasing the land from the Spaulding family for $360,000 which is the appraised value of the parcel. The land trust is borrowing the funds for the purchase from Vermont’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund Project, according to Liza Walker, the Vermont Land Trust’s Mad River Valley regional director. The land trust is buying the property as an interim owner and will be interim owner for a little over a year.
The land has 4,000 feet of frontage along the Mad River and while under VLT ownership a riparian restoration plan for that frontage will be developed and implemented. The land will be permanently protected with a conservation easement and then transferred to the DeFreest farm, Warren. The DeFreest family’s farm is in Warren but they lease and own cropland in other nearby towns as well.
“The project aims to conserve farmland on The Valley floor and facilitates transfer to farmer ownership while at the same time advancing water protection goals,” Walker explained.
The DeFreests have been leasing the Spaulding land since the Spauldings stopped actively farming it, she said.
“We’re excited to be working with Laurie Spaulding to help conserve this piece and make sure farmland protection goes hand in hand with other community priorities such as flood resiliency. Leasing farmland is precarious for farmers,” Walker said.
She said the discussions with the Spaulding family had been underway for a long time and that the property had recently come under contract. The closing is expected sometime this summer.
As with many land conservation projects, the land trust is looking at recreation opportunities as well as connectivity with existing trail networks. A portion of the Mad River Path had been located on that parcel, by the river, in the past but not recently. The portion of the trail on the Spaulding parcel had connected to land owned by the Neill farm, Waitsfield, that ran along the river to Meadow Road. The Neill farm land no longer hosts a trail segment either.