Abagael Giles

ABI JEWETT OF Ripton competes at the 2018 World Cup event at Killington. The 19-year-old member of the U.S. Ski Team’s Alpine C Team made her World Cup debut in Vermont last year, though she will not compete this season due to a long battle with injury. Jewett remains on the U.S. team and hopes to compete in the future. Photo by Alex Klein
KILLINGTON — From Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, some of the top ski racers in the world will head to Vermont to compete at the HomeLight Killington Cup, a stop on the FIS Ski Women’s World Cup tour. In 2018, the event drew 39,000 spectators and Killington Mountain Resort anticipates that this year’s event will bring millions of dollars of economic impact to the state of Vermont.  Action kicks off on Friday, with athletes being awarded their bibs for the giant slalom at 5:45 p.m. The first run for the giant slalom will commence at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, with the second run at 1 p.m. Vermont singing...

UVM ANTHROPOLOGY PROFESSOR Teresa Mares, holding her new book on migrant farmworkers and food justice, is joined after a talk Thursday at the Champlain Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Middlebury by folks from event sponsor Middlebury Natural Foods Co-Op. She is shown, from left, with MNFF board member Louise Vojtisek, Glenn Lower, Emily Landenberger and board member Lynn Dutton. Independent photo/Abagael Giles
MIDDLEBURY — Migrant farmworkers in Vermont are more likely to be food insecure than most Vermonters, but the reasons why are not as simple as having too few financial resources. A host of factors, among them long hours and a constant and justified fear of being detained by immigration officials, make it difficult for many to access food, according to University of Vermont Scholar Teresa Mares. “We are the second-least ethnically diverse state in the country right now,” Mares told an audience at the Champlain Valley Universalist Universalist Society in Middlebury on Thursday evening. “And so...

MARIE AUDET OF Bridport’s Blue Spruce Farm is a founding member of the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition.
PANTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week launched a multi-year study to examine how much conservation projects are improving water quality in two Addison County watersheds. The project, funded at $2 million through the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Conservation Effects Easement Project (CEAP), will examine the Dead Creek Watershed and the Headwaters of Little Otter Creek. NRCS will, in partnership with the University of Vermont Extension, temporarily accelerate and enhance on-farm conservation practices in the Dead Creek Basin but not in the Headwaters of the...

KEVIN RUSSELL OF Waitsfield gets ready to hit the trail in Goshen last week for his last day of hiking on the North Country Trail in Addison County. Independent photo/Abagael Giles
EAST MIDDLEBURY — As the sun was coming up on Oct. 1, Kevin Russell embarked on a journey by foot and bike across Addison County. He aimed to hike the 44.3-mile stretch of the North Country Trail, which winds its way on a proposed route through the Champlain Valley, up and over the spine of the Green Mountains to the Appalachian Trail’s junction with the Green Mountain Club’s Long Trail in Bridgewater, Vt. Russell’s goal was to bolster support and awareness about efforts to officially complete the trail in Vermont and beyond. Like the Appalachian Trail, the North Country Trail is a National...

BRIAN KEMP, A member of the Payment for Ecosystem Services Working Group, said farmers should get paid for the work they do to help the ecosystem, but he doesn’t think taxpayers should be the source of payment. Independent file photo/Emma Cotton
WATERBURY — A group of farmers, agricultural organizations and state and federal regulators last week began developing a plan for paying Vermont farmers to implement conservation projects on their land.  The case for this is simple:  Vermont has 1.2 million acres of agricultural land and must meet ambitious water quality goals set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Water Act. As Vermont dairy farmers face the fifth year of low milk prices — sometimes below the cost of production — some say those farmers should be paid for the conservation work and the environmental...

FARMER ERNIE AUDET (left) talks about state regulations with Sen. Ruth Hardy, D-East Middlebury, (center) Sen. Brian Collamore, R-Rutland, (right) and others in a barn at Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport during a legislators farm tour last month. Independent photo/Abagael Giles
WEYBRIDGE — “Day after day, we get up and go to the barn to make no money,” Roger Scholten told state officials and legislators at his farm in Weybridge on Sept. 18. “I lie awake at night thinking about how I felt 15 years ago, before I made the move to go organic. That’s how I feel now.” Scholten and his wife Patty operate Scholten Family Farm, a 250-cow organic dairy just over the town line from Middlebury. They’ve been in business for 25 years and have diversified their dairy farm over that period — first by making the transition organic and, since 2008, by making cheese, which they age at...

A HELICOPTER OPERATED by Kritter Cropdusting last Wednesday picks up a load of cover crop seed to broadcast over several Addison County cornfields before the corn is harvested. Independent photo/Steve James
MIDDLEBURY — Addison County farmers have seen a rainy and consistently wet spring and summer result in a late corn harvest. Now some of those farmers are looking to the skies again — this time for help in planting a cover crop this fall. This past Tuesday and Wednesday a crop-dusting helicopter dropped nearly 40,000 pounds of a variety of cover crop seeds on several hundred acres of floodplain farmland — primarily cornfields — across the county. “It was just so consistently wet this year, that although things are coming along, a lot of farms will risk a big hit to their yield if they harvest...

WITH SANITARY SLIPPERS on his muck boots to protect against the spread of infections, a young boy explores the calf barn at the Four Hills Farm in Bristol during an Aug. 24 open house. These calves stay with cows their age throughout their time at Four Hills Farm. The Hill family tries to use up-to-date farming practices including 21st century technologies. Photo by Laura Hardie
BRISTOL — When Four Hills Farm business manager Chanin Hill married Brian Hill 26 years ago, the Hill family farm, which sits at the base of the Hogback Mountains on Burpee Road in Bristol, was home to about 260 Holstein and Jersey cows. Since then a lot has changed. Today, the Hill family manages a milking herd of about 2,300 (still Holsteins and Jerseys) and farms 5,700 acres of land in Addison County. “We went from that tiny little barn down there,” Chanin told farm tour guests on Aug. 24, gesturing down the road, “to up here, where we built the current barns, in 1996.” During the tour,...
ST. ALBANS — A large group of local dairy farmers who voted to merge their Vermont milk marketing and processing cooperative with a national competitor are now waiting to see if the move will pay off.  Their hope is that the bigger operation will enable Vermont farms to send more dairy products into the international markets to create greater stability for co-op members after years of depressed bulk milk prices.  Representatives of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery’s roughly 360 member farms late last month voted to authorize a merger between the independent cooperative and Dairy Farmers of...
SALISBURY — An effort to petition Vermont environmental officials to award the state’s highest protections to the Otter Creek Wetland Complex has shifted course, according to Heidi Willis, chair of the Otter Creek Reclassification Steering Committee. The committee, which assembled in early 2019, initially sought a Class I designation under Vermont Wetland Rules for the 1,500-acre complex of swamps running from Middlebury to Brandon. Approximately 500 landowners in seven towns and two counties own private property that abuts the wetland. This past week, the committee announced it would...


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Addison County Independent

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