EAST WARREN — An experienced farming couple have become first-time farm owners, thanks to the generosity and conservation vision of Anne Burling of East Warren.
Working closely with the Burling family and the Vermont Land Trust, Zeb Swick and Samantha Duchaine of Alpenglow Farm purchased over 50 acres of farmland and forest behind the popular East Warren Community Market where they currently run a small-scale, diversified farm.
The land Zeb and Sam acquired was conserved with the land trust in 2000, when Anne Burling donated a conservation easement to protect that property, originally part of the Elliot Farm at the four corners of East Warren.
An active supporter of local agriculture and the Mad River Valley community, Anne has leased her land to farmers, hosted community gardens next to the East Warren Community Market, and provided access for Blueberry Lake ski trails.
Since 2016, Sam and Zeb have leased Anne’s land to produce organic fruits and vegetables which they sell at the East Warren Community Market and other local stores, and use for their mobile smoothie enterprise, Root Juice.
They also keep bees and run a tree nursery.
Anne Burling wanted to make ownership possible for Sam and Zeb, and make sure the land would remain affordable for farming in the future, so she reached out to the Vermont Land Trust.
The land trust’s Farmland Access Program helps entrepreneurial farmers such as Sam and Zeb find and purchase affordable farms of their own.
To facilitate the sale of her conserved land, Anne added a provision that allowed Sam and Zeb to buy the property at its agricultural value.
The provision ensures the land will remain available for future farmers.
Anne also donated conservation protections on additional land sold to Zeb and Sam which can be used for farmer housing.
Finally, she increased protections for wetlands and streams on the property to support clean water and valuable habitat for wildlife.
“Purchasing this land has been a huge step towards making our farm successful,” said Zeb Swick. “It is extremely difficult for new farmers to find access to land, especially in an area like the Mad River Valley where land prices are high. Ownership now gives us the security to invest in our farm and make it more productive.”
The farmland conservation project was also supported by the Town of Warren, which contributed $7,500 to help cover costs associated with the conservation transaction.
“The Warren Conservation Commission is extremely pleased that our local farmland will permanently remain an active agricultural resource for the Valley,” said Jito Coleman, Chair of the Commission.