Vermonters and visitors value our working landscape for all its scenic, cultural, economic, environmental and recreational benefits. However, if alarming trends are not reversed it will vanish within a generation. So will Vermont's distinctiveness, its core brand for tourism and attracting business, and many of the key values that unify the state. The Vermont Council on Rural Development built the Vermont Working Landscape Partnership (VWLP) in follow-up to our Council on the Future of Vermont which found that, overwhelmingly, Vermonters are united in support of the state's working landscape.
VWLP is a non-partisan and broad-based partnership to support local agriculture and forestry, grow and attract farm and forest entrepreneurs, and conserve Vermont’s Working Landscape far into the future. Since its inception in December of 2010, the WL Partnership has grown to nearly 1,000 individuals and organizations / businesses dedicated to advancing the farm, forest and value-added natural resource economy as a vital foundation for the future of Vermont. In 2011 and 2012 we convened a leadership group for the Partnership, the Working Landscape Partnership Council, which produced its Final Report, the "Action Plan: Investing in our Farm and Forest Future", that serves as the guiding platform for the work and asserts that the working landscape be a defining principal for Vermont state policy. We encourage Vermonters who support the Action Plan to Join the Partnership today!
The Action Plan recommendations were turned into legislative language for consideration by Vermont lawmakers with Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bill (H.496) which passed the House and the Senate, and was signed by Gov. Shumlin in May 2012 as Act 142: The Working Lands Enterprise Initiative (WLEI). WLEI created the Working Lands Enterprise Fund (WLEF) and the Working Lands Enterprise Board (WLEB) which awards grants to farm and forest enterprises in Vermont (see funded projects to date). Each fall, a new round of applications are accepted. Visit the workinglands.vermont.gov website to find out more and to apply.
Today, we are working to promote the growth of this fund through the Working Lands Coalition, which we convened to actively support continued public funding for farm and forest enterprises, with a goal of $15M which will be transformational for Vermont's cultural and economic future.