Amid high demand for farms, mother-daughter duo open farm in Wolcott

Mother and daughter open farm in Vermont after participating in farming course
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 9:24 AM EDT
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WOLCOTT, Vt. (WCAX) - Whether taking over an already operational farm or starting one from scratch, it is business first, and there is a lot of business to consider.

The Intervale Center’s Farm Business Program says the farmer population continues to age, meaning more transitions are on the horizon.

Modern farms are employing more diversification strategies meaning more business planning assistance.

The model is a cycle, so they want to work with farms from beginning to end, allowing for farms to farm long into the future, even if operations are changing.

Once the farm is operating they look further out to longevity and growth.

Sam Smith, the director of the Farm Business Program with the Intervale Center, says taking advantage of growth opportunities like grants is important, but even there a lot of planning is needed.

Smith says one of the biggest hurdles for new farmers is land access. Smith estimates Vermont Land Link, which connects farmers with available land, has roughly 700 people searching for land in our region, and last year there were only 41 listings for land.

Hazel Adams-Shungo and her daughter, also named Hazel, are behind the creation of Flying Buffalo Farm.

They put their roots down not long after participating in the Farm Immersion Program at Hartshorn Farm. The program is a weeklong, hands-on learning experience about agriculture.

“Kind of really started to think about building a family farm, and not just thinking about it, but doing it,” said Flying Buffalo farmer and daughter Hazel Adams.

As food systems cracked during the pandemic, the Adams said the time was right to jump in.

On Christmas morning of 2021, they secured the land through Vermont Land Link and began planting by spring.

“It’s been a beautiful experience, there is something that is very textured about the farming experience,” said Flying Buffalo LLC co-founder and mother Hazel Adams-Shango.

Amy Todisco, with the farm immersion program, has watched her graduates, the Adams, grow from seeds to fruit.

“They have done more in one year than I was even anticipating for them,” Todisco said.

Experts say success is about more than just doing the dirty work.

“A farmer in this day and age can’t just start milking cows and ship it on the same truck that their father or grandfather did,” Smith said.

Smith says especially for young and starting farms, staying economically viable is key to the future.

“Really require that farmers are business people first, like we focus on building business management skills, getting people into QuickBooks, getting into marketing and sales, assessing a new enterprise, said Smith.

Long-term planning, digitizing and diversifying are all key to viability.

The Adams have rounded a year since they first gave farming a shot. And while the Flying Buffalo carves its space out in the agricultural community, they have already been finding success.

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