UVLT has purchased a conservation easement protecting nearly 200 acres of farm and forestland in Hartland. The farm, a designated Vermont Century Farm, has been in the Richardson family since 1905, when James Richardson purchased the property, although the family knows that the land’s farm history goes back at least another 100 years before that. Today, the Richardson family operates an award-winning Jersey cow dairy, makes maple syrup and runs a split rail fencing business on the property.
“We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to help the Richardsons ensure that their farm will remain intact and in active use by the family,” says Peg Merrens, UVLT’s Vice President for Land Conservation. “Our conservation work supports the patterns of stewardship that have created the Valley’s rural landscape.”
The farm has a well-deserved reputation in the state and throughout the region for producing high-quality milk. The Richardson Family Farm was recognized in 2009 by the University of Vermont and the Vermont Dairy Industry Association as the Vermont Dairy Farm of the Year, because of the Richardsons’ exemplary dairy farm management. Their milk quality scores put them in the top one percent of the dairy operations in Vermont.
Gordon and Patricia Richardson recently completed the purchase of the property from Gordon’s brother and his wife, James and Ann Richardson in order to facilitate the eventual transfer of the property to the next generation. It had long been a goal of the Richardsons to conserve the family farm for the family’s future generations. Gordon and his sons, Scott and Reid, are now the primary managers of the Richardson Family Farm, a 130-head hillside farm. Gordon’s sister Anita is retired from the day-to-day operations but helps out when needed. Scott’s wife, Amy, does the evening milking, and Patricia handles the books and farm correspondence. Grandsons Ezra, Emory, and Elliott Richardson and Mason Thompson also pitch in on farm chores.
In addition to dairying, the Richardsons manage an extensive maple sugaring operation, producing more than 3000 gallons of syrup annually. The split rail fencing business was started by Gordon and his late brother James in 1963 as a way to add to the farm’s income. Today Reid is largely responsible for that business, using lumber harvested locally.
Partial funding for UVLT’s purchase of the conservation easement was provided through a grant from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and matching funds from USDA NRCS. The Richardsons donated the balance of the value of the conservation easement.
Jennifer Waite, Chair of the Hartland Conservation Commission, said, “The Richardson Farm is a wonderful place, treasured by the community and beautifully managed.” She noted “the generosity of the Richardson family, who have worked so hard to plan for the future of the farm.”