Shannon Varley
Strafford Village Farm

Norah Lake
Sweetland Farm

Last year, CRC worked with two farms along the banks of the Ompompanoosuc River in Vermont. Strafford Village Farm, in Strafford, and Sweetland Farm, in Norwich, both had farmland eroding into the river. The two farms received more than 1,800 trees and shrubs, planted for them along the riverbanks to hold the soil in place as the plants grow.

Although we wanted to do what we could to prevent further erosion, we have so much going on at the farm that I don’t know how soon we would have gotten to this if it hadn’t been for CRC’s help,” said Norah Lake, founder of Sweetland Farm. Shannon Varley, co-founder of Strafford Village Farm, agreed: “It proved a very easy and simple process, which was important because we are very busy and needed it to be a low-maintenance project.”

Invasive plants were also removed along the riverbanks where the trees and shrubs were planted. “It is inspiring us to continue clearing invasives on other parts of the farm,” noted Norah. “We are replacing them with native trees and shrubs to create better wildlife habitat. We love to walk and ski along the edge of the river, and it is now that much more enjoyable to see the results of this project when we walk by!”

At Strafford Village Farm, the Ompompanoosuc River flows through the middle of the farm. “Obviously, stabilizing the river is a good thing for our farm in both the short- and long-term. It was a win-win since stabilizing the banks is a high priority for us,” said Shannon. “This restoration project was a catalyst to build a working relationship with CRC and NRCS and we look forward to strengthening that in the future.” Relationships and partnerships are key to the collaborative nature of CRC’s work. Every single CRC restoration project has involved multiple partners, and working with others is what makes projects like these possible.

Both women felt that the restoration projects had an impact at the farms and in the wider community, too. Norah at Sweetland Farm summed it up well: “Our customers appreciate that we have made a pledge to significantly cut our carbon emissions, we treat our farm labor with dignity, we carefully consider the environmental impacts of each management decision we make, and we are striving to be role models to other local businesses in our community. This project is one more example we are excited to share with our customers and community of how we can better care for the land and water that sustains us.”

CRC thanks the planting crews from NorthWoods Stewardship Center and Redstart Forestry; plant nurseries Intervale Nursery in VT and New England Wetland Plants in MA; and project funders: VT Natural Resources Conservation Service, State of VT Clean Water Block Grant, PUR Projet, NH Charitable Foundation’s Mitigation and Enhancement Fund, and National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.