In 1972 Tim and Nancy Bryant purchased Milaura Farm in Pawlet and ran it as a successful dairy for 40 years. As they were nearing retirement, they considered the options for the farm. New water quality regulations and the relatively small size of the farm made it a difficult fit for dairy farming in this era. The farm also had a 20-acre gravel pit. Through working with VLT, the Bryants were able to find new farmers and reclaim a large gravel pit as farmland (see photo gallery below). They also sold a conservation easement on 173 acres, making sure they will always be available for farming.

Rico and Jill Balzano and their children moved to the Bryant’s farm this year after their pastured pork business outgrew their farm in Wells. They were looking for more land and a farm that had barns. The Balzanos are leasing the Bryant’s farm as they work toward eventually purchasing it. Tim and Nancy moved to an on-farm house so they can remain close to the land they love. They are also lending their know-how as Rico and Jill settle and expand their business.

A third of a mile of Beaver Brook crosses the farm. The brook is a major tributary of the Mettawee River, which eventually runs into the southern end of Lake Champlain. The land along the brook was protected from farm activities through the conservation easement, as were several wetland areas. Healthy, natural vegetation along wetlands and watercourses helps to filter nutrients and sediments from farms, which in turn improves water quality. Rico and Jill are also in the process of building fences to keep farm animals away from the water.

Funded by VHCB (with matching funds from UDSA NRCS), the Castanea Foundation, the Lookout Foundation, other private foundations, and a Regional Conservation Partnership Program grant awarded to the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation by the USDA NRCS. (March 2017)