In 1961 Roscoe Manning worked as a truck driver collecting milk from Upper Valley farms. After a visit to a farm on Robinson Road in Strafford, he told his wife Ruth that he’d found the farm for them. With over a mile and a half of frontage on Robinson Road and nearly three miles of perennial streams including Fay Brook, the Manning Farm sits in one of Strafford’s most scenic landscapes. The land encompasses 382 acres, including productive hayland, pasture, and working forest. Wooded hillsides on both sides of the valley have provided sap for maple sugaring, lumber, and firewood.
For more than 50 years, Roscoe and Ruth Manning cared for the fields and forests there, milking cows, growing a huge garden, sugaring, harvesting timber, and raising their family. The land passed on to their children after their deaths and on January 12th, after months of planning and fundraising, their children have conserved the farm, protecting it for generations to come.
Eric and Dennis Manning and Carol (Manning) Boles made the decision to conserve their family farm and sell the land to Earl Ransom and Amy Huyffer of nearby Rockbottom Farm. Rockbottom Farm is an organic dairy and the last dairy in Strafford. Earl and Amy have been steadily increasing their herd size over 15 years and had been leasing portions of the Manning Farm for pasture and hay. The milk from Rockbottom Farm is processed at the on-farm Strafford Organic Creamery for regional milk and ice cream distribution.
The Manning Farm is a core part of the iconic Strafford landscape, supporting a growing business and preserving a heritage of farming. Placing a conservation easement on the land before selling it meant that Earl and Amy could buy the property at a reduced cost. That reduced cost means that it is now more affordable for farmers to purchase the land and use it for agriculture, it keeps the land in local ownership, producing local food.
At the end of December UVLT mailed a fundraising letter to residents of Strafford, South Strafford, Thetford, and Sharon asking for help raising the last 10% of the funds needed to purchase the conservation easement. The Alliance for VT Communities offered a $10,000 matching challenge. We were blown away by the response. In just a few weeks we raised $16,000 and were able to complete the transaction and meet the challenge. This is a tremendous community response and we are so grateful to you for making the conservation of this community landmark a reality.