Helping Small Farms Survive - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Helping Small Farms Survive

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South Royalton, Vermont - July 25, 2008

Farmers, and those interested in agriculture tour the Hurricane Flats Farm in South Royalton. They are learning new techniques on how small farms survive in today's climate.

"I had sort of thought that salad greens would be the best way to introduce myself to the whole concept, and so I want to find out what other people in the state are doing, and boy, there is a lot," says Laurel Laframboise, who wants to farm.

The tour wrapped up a two-day seminar at the Vermont Law school. It's called Food, Fuel, and the Future of Farming.

"Vermont farms have been in jeopardy for almost a century. Since the open up of the west, and the combination of railroads and refrigerator shipping," says Michael Dworkin of the Vermont Law School.

Despite a steady decline in Vermont dairy farms the latest numbers from the state show the total number of farms producing all kinds of agricultural products-- from small vegetable stands, to honey makers, to home-grown pork-- has remained relatively stable over the last ten years. In 1997 there were 6,600, in 2006 there were 6,300.

But, experts say there are ways to lessen the decline.

"The techniques for it are to be really efficient in the way you use energy, to look for on-sight options for bio-energy, to look at on-sight options for things like wind and solar," says Dworkin.

The forum was sponsored by the Environmental Law Center on campus. It focused on how to stay profitable despite the high cost of energy.

"It's clear that there is a need. People come from all over the country, both to speak and to attend," says Marc Mihaly of the Environmental Law Center.

The environmental curriculum at the law school is the largest in the country. Organizers of the event say it is important to share that expertise on the subject in an effort to keep Vermont farms, not only sustainable, but flourishing into the future.

Click here for more information on energy issues and farming.

Adam Sullivan - WCAX News

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