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Grants to fund meat goats, strawberry-aquaponics

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COLCHESTER, Vt. -

This farmland in Colchester is owned by the Vermont Land Trust. The land trust is allowing so-called "new Americans"  to raise goats here to provide meat to the local Immigrant and refugee population.  This is a pilot project started in March, the Dhaurali family bought 77 baby male goats from local goat dairies and is raising them for sale.   

"We have to slaughter them and sell them in our community," said Gita Dhaurali.

The project is part of the Vermont Goat Collaborative, an effort to bring Vermont goat farmers together with new Americans interested in goat farming.   The Collaborative recently received an almost $11,000 grant from the Working Lands Enterprise to build a slaughter facility on the farm.
 
"In order to reduce the cost of the meat, one of the ways to do that is to allow people to slaughter the animals themselves, using a custom exempt system that is allowed in the state of Vermont," said the Collaborative's Karen Freudenberger. "So people will be able to come here, buy the goats from Chuda and his family and then slaughter them right here on site legally and bring the goat meat  back for their families."

A total of $220,000 was awarded to 20 different grantees working on projects in agriculture, forestry and forest projects. A $15,000 grant was given to the Last Resort Farm in Monkton for a very different agricultural endeavor -- a water flow system for a trout and aquaponic strawberry growing production -- that's right -- trout and strawberries.

"So what the plants are doing -- basically filter out the water, use up the excess nitrites which are actually toxic to the fish and so you have the symbiotic relationship where you can actually produce both strawberries and fish together," said the farm's Silas Doyle-Burr.

A silo has been cut down and capped -- that will be the tank for up to 4,500 rainbow trout.  The water flow system will be installed in June and up to 2,000  strawberry plants will be grown in the barn. And because the water temperature will be maintained at 65 degrees, Doyle-Burr figures he can grow berries almost year round.

Meanwhile, back in Colchester, work will begin immediately to convert the former milk shed into a slaughter facility to help sell goat meat to the more than 6,000  refugees in the greater Burlington area.

The program received a total of 191 applications seeking a total of $2.1 million in funding.

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