Dispatches from the Hill RSS



Our Public Comment on Vermont's Required Agricultural Practices

We submitted the following letter to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets on the last day that they were accepting public comment on the Required Agricultural Practices—or RAPs. Now that the rule has been formally submitted by the Agency, we thought we'd publish our final comments. See the bottom of this post for an explanation of the featured "before" image (above), and the "after" image (at the bottom). Hello. First I’d like to thank you for taking on the monumental task of addressing the water quality and environmental degradation issues facing Vermont. As a farmer, this issue is of paramount importance to me, my business, and the future of our state. If we stand idly by and allow the...

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Room to Romp, Room to Roam with Studio Hill's Pasture-Raised Pigs

Last week was a big one for our pigs—they graduated! Assured that they had reached a good size to fend for themselves and were sufficiently trained on the electric fence, we let them out of the training paddock of their piglet youth and into the 5 acre parcel of pasture and woods prepared for them on the hillside above their shed. After a few minutes of warily snuffling the invisible line where the electric tape had been, the pigs found the endless sea of green grass too alluring and began poking their way into new territory. Within three days they had already marched their way to the top of the grassy hill, munching and rooting as they went, and this...

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Economy, Ecology, & the Launch of a Regenerative Food CSA

Farming is slow. It's not often "relax-in-the-sunshine-with-a-frosty-beverage" slow. It's more like "your-mortgage" slow. Or, "walk-in-ski-boots" slow. Or "build-the-pyramids" slow.  Farming requires tremendous repetitive effort. And, the progress produced by that effort is incremental and, often, imperceptible.  But every once in a while, after years (and generations) of planning and work and preparation and building and stressing and pushing, something incredible is revealed. I'm proud and relieved to say that today is one of those days. Cally and I have a dream for this farm. We want to honor the work of three generations of the family by making the land they tended more wildly fertile. We want to restore and care for the buildings they erected by making the barns,...

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Our Response to Vermont's Proposed Required Agricultural Practices

I applaud Vermont's Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets—herein referred to as "The Agency"—for trying to move the state's water quality in the right direction. When our wonderful Senator Campion stood in my barnyard one morning a year or so ago and asked me my thoughts on a hypothetical program, I was all for it. I scanned our own farm real quick and saw a few places where wet manure piles could get cleaned up and should get cleaned up. As regular readers will know, we take pride in our effort to make our farm a part of the environmental solution—not a part of the problem. So, we're happy to learn when we're wrong and happy to learn how to...

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Hope in the Face of Climate Change...and a Quick Look Into The Science of Grass

Most people—as I did for over 30 years—overlook the importance of grass. It has been relegated by modern society to suburban lawns, soccer fields, golf courses, and strip mall embankments. Though our modern ways too often prevent grass from doing so, this unassuming little plant plays a vital role in the management of the earth's carbon cycle—the reason we have air, food, and water. Simply put, if we hope to grab a hold of runaway climate change and continue to live on a habitable planet...we must not overlook the grass. In fact, that "miracle ally" in the fight against climate change that we're all waiting for...might be right under our feet. OK. Now that the compelling introduction is out of...

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