Conservation Will Help to Keep Farms in the Family


WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 12, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Highgate & Berkshire —Three farms were recently conserved in Franklin County: the Bernard and Sue Rainville farm in Highgate and two farms in Berkshire owned by John and Margie Barabe. The families conserved their properties with the Vermont Land Trust, which will ensure that the land will always be available for farming and forestry. Both families protected the land by selling a conservation easement—a legal tool that limits subdivision and development. The proceeds from the sales will help the Rainvilles and the Barabes transfer their farms to the next generation.

The Rainvilles bought their farm in 1977. Its wide open fields of hay and pasture support a herd of organic dairy cows. They also grow soybeans for feed. They are planning to transfer the farm to their son Louis and his wife, Maggie, in the future.

“Louis and Maggie are an integral part of our farm,” said Bernard Rainville. “So the timing is right to sell the development rights to help the transition to their ownership. We have many development options, but I hate to see houses built on good farmland. We already own a conserved farm in St. Albans, so it made sense to conserve the home place.”

Five years ago, Louis started his own business by growing organic sunflowers and pressing the oil. The oil is sold at City Market and Healthy Living in Burlington and at the Middlebury Natural Food Coop.

The 245 acres that the Rainvilles conserved are located within a 5,000-acre area of protected farmland. In addition to protecting the agricultural land, the conservation easement also requires that a 100-foot-wide wooded area along a half-mile of the Rock River be maintained to protect water quality. Further east, John and Margie Barabe have a scenic dairy farm along the Canadian border. They milk 170 cows and have a total herd of 300. The Barabe family has a long history of farming and now John and Margie’s sons, James and Thomas, would like to continue that tradition. John and Margie Barabe with tractor

In an effort to expand their business, the Barabes recently purchased the neighboring Lumbra Farm. Selling a conservation easement on 103 acres of the former Lumbra farm and 232 acres of their home farm made the purchase of this additional farmland more affordable.

“Both our sons want to continue on the farm so we needed to expand to make it financially viable,” said John Barabe. “Conserving both farms at the same time made it possible. The conservation process takes a while, but in the end it all worked out and it was the right decision for our family and our dairy business.”

“The conservation of the Rainville and Barabe farms will help the next generation continue farming this land,” Allen Karnatz, VLT Senior Farm Project Director. “And it ensures that some of Vermont’s best farmland will remain intact for all generations.”

The acquisition of all three conservation easements were funded by state and federal sources. The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) grant contribution was matched by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The financial assistance from VHCB and NRCS help make it possible to permanently protect the state’s highest quality agricultural resources. Landowners continue to own, manage, and pay taxes on conserved land, which they can decide to sell; however, the conservation easement permanently remains on the property.


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