By: Anna Kruseman
Monday July, 16 was a road day, a travel day or more accurately half a travel day. Our trip that day was from Waterbury to Richmond, which is a stretch of about 14 miles. It was a fairly easy ride and we arrived in Richmond at 12:30pm, which left ample of time for us to meet with local green organizations.
After settling down at Betsey’s house, of Interfaith Power & Light, we dashed off to the town centre to meet with several organizations she had suggested. We had not exactly planned to spend a day in Richmond so the visits were a spur of the moment thing. We hoped that a representative from each organization would speak with us, and they did.
The first organization we spoke with was the Rainforest Alliance. Here, we met with Hugo and Lawson. Hugo gave us a general overview of the organization. They are mainly known for their certification of brands such as those that produce coffee or bananas in Latin American countries. However they do much more including audits of forest, agriculture, and tourism sustainability around the world. They also have certified multiple forests here in the U.S. We then met with Lawson, who told us more about the auditing process, which is centralized in their Richmond office. Most audits that they do are voluntary but it is a benefit in many ways for a company to have this certification.
Next we met with the Vermont Land Trust, an organization that is concerned with the conservation of land as either forest or agricultural. They do not audit, but they conserved land, map it, and have a programs to encourage formal designated conservation. For example, there is a program that allows people who want to become farmers, the chance to buy farmland at an affordable price. When an established farmer decides, for whatever reason to quit farming, the Vermont Land Trust encourages the farmer to officially conserve the land with the help of grants. The land conserved for agriculture can no longer be developed, so the value of the land is lower than market value. The Vermont Land Trust then goes through their list of people looking to start farming. They also showed us a state map of conserved land and it was color-coded with the different organizations that established the conservation (ex. Federal, state, municipal, and private). I browsed through this atlas to find Bradford, where we had been before and had done some trail work for the local conservation committee. It was clearly visible that most of Wrights Mountain was pink, indicating municipally conserved land with some blue patches, indicating privately conserved land. To date, there are approximately half a million acres of conserved land throughout the state.
Our last stop was at the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) of Vermont, which has many different programs centered around farms and farmer. Some of these include, farm to school or grants to get solar energy, and Irene relief. We were really excited to meet with NOFA because we had seen solar panels at the Luna Blue Farm in South Royalton that were purchased with the assistance of a NOFA grant. We talked with Kirsten Bower, who is the Financial Manager but has been with the organization in several capacities for many years. We discussed a range of topics from education and funds to actions and the impact of tropical storm Irene. Many farms were hit hard because the most fertile land is near rivers.
Although, we were only able to spend one day in Richmond, there is even more than the aforementioned to see. They have an active Climate Action Committee and a Conservation Commission, which we were unfortunately unable to meet with. However, spending a day in Richmond was a blessing in disguise and we hope to have many more throughout our travels in Vermont.