The Bessettes were one of the first families in Franklin County to conserve a farm. Back in 1995, Don and Frances Bessette worked with VLT to protect their dairy in Highgate from development. Seven years later they conserved a second farm, and their sons, Scott and Marc, conserved a third. This past October, Scott and his wife, Beth, protected a fourth farm, located next to their home. For many years, the Bessette family rented this 154-acre parcel, which was once home to a large egg farm owned by a Canadian company. Buying the land gives them the security that comes with ownership and selling a conservation easement made the transition more affordable.

They have since converted the large chicken barn to an equipment shed and will be using the 110 tillable acres to grow forage for their 300-head dairy herd. “VLT has worked with the Bessette family for over 20 years,” said VLT’s Al Karnatz. “They are committed to farming and to seeing good farmland stay productive. All told, the Bessettes have protected nearly 900 acres of quality farmland from development.”

Woods and shrubs along river

The newly conserved land has over half a mile of frontage on the Rock River, which flows to Lake Champlain. The conservation easement requires a 50-foot-wide naturally vegetated area along the river and a small tributary that crosses the land. Trees and shrubs along rivers and streams prevent erosion and absorb excess nutrients before they reach the water. Funded by VHCB (with matching funds from USDA NRCS).