High Meadows Fund has made a $6 million gift to diversify farm ownership, accelerate the economic viability of farming, and advance natural climate solutions and ecological health on Vermont farms in partnership with the Vermont Community Foundation and Vermont Land Trust.
Of the total, $2 million will seed the creation of a new fund to expand land ownership and access among people who have been historically marginalized or oppressed based on their race or ethnicity. This is the largest gift of its kind ever made in Vermont.
“Words cannot express the joy and hope we feel around the potential of this gift to shape a vibrant future for Vermont’s farming. Like hundreds of farming families in Vermont, we know first-hand the challenge of holding land and maintaining what we have,” said Lydia Clemmons, president and executive director of the Clemmons Family Farm in Charlotte.
“A gift of this kind could help all of us, particularly those who have been historically marginalized or oppressed,” Clemmons said. “My parents purchased our farm nearly 60 years ago with a vision of holding onto the land — at all costs — for future generations. They are both 98 years old now. Over the course of their lifetimes, African Americans have lost 93 percent of their land assets in the United States. The historic Clemmons farm is one of the few Black-owned farms remaining in the state and nation. We look forward to joining hands with others to support the important work ahead.”
The Vermont Land Trust, alongside a diverse group of farmers and community leaders, is convening discussions to design and grow the $2 million fund to expand land ownership and access. The fund’s governance, structure, and decision-making will be determined by Black, Indigenous and other people of color in Vermont. More information about this project will be available in early 2022.
The remaining $4 million will expand the land trust’s work to put hundreds of farmers onto the land operating successful businesses over the next 10 years. This impactful gift comes at a turning point for agriculture in Vermont.
“Agriculture is central to our identity and sense of place. Today, it is under threat. The climate crisis, demographic change, and broader economics require us to act boldly and change the trajectory of decline,” said Nick Richardson, president and CEO of the Vermont Land Trust. “This gift, and decades-long partnership with the High Meadows Fund, enables us to take a great leap forward in protecting and strengthening agriculture in Vermont.”
To learn more about the High Meadows Fund’s gift, read president Gaye Symington’s recent blog post at vermontcf.org/highmeadows-gift-announcement.