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Farmer expands to the suburbs

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Paul De La Bruere Paul De La Bruere

Essex, Vermont - August 20, 2010

It is not uncommon for Vermont farmers to lease extra land they need, either for animals or crops.  And in these economic times, farmers are getting more creative about their land deals.

This spring a herd of dairy cows appeared in this field in Essex which sits in the middle of several developments. It is the creative solution to a dairy dilemma.

"I moved the cows here in May, I have another farm in Highgate near the Canadian border and a few years ago I went the organic route, and with the new pasture rule we need so many acres to pasture our cows and I was short of land on the other farm so I started looking around where I could pasture my cows," said farmer Paul De La Bruere.

Turns out the perfect pasture was here in suburban Chittenden County. De La Bruere signed a three year lease.

"Well I think that is a big thing, here is a farm that has been sitting idle for many years and there are many farms that are struggling and going out of business and here is this farm that has been sitting idle and bringing it back to life is a big thing, and it is even bigger to do it in Chittenden County," said De La Bruere.

But there was a lot of work to be done, soil tests confirmed the farm could be certified organic, then came the fencing -- two miles strung -- and counting.

The barn had to be completely cleaned and equipment replaced and updated, but now the 75 milkers produce two tons of milk every day. It is shipped to Organic Valley processors out of state.

It does seem a bit odd to see cows and condos together but De La Bruere says he has had lots of positive feedback from neighbors who say they love seeing cows in their back yard.

"People will tell me that they much rather see the cows back there then buildings, and when I was building fence people would come out and say how happy they are to see the cows it has been a positive experience all around," De La Bruere said.

The cows will be trucked back to the farm in Highgate for the winter, but will return to Essex in the spring.

Judy Simpson – WCAX News

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