Thank you, Mike Yantachka, for voting in favor of the Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bill (H.496). Charlotte is blessed with some of the most fertile land in all of Vermont. Before moving to Charlotte in 2008, I gardened in a small lot at my apartment in Burlington’s North End for eight years, producing a small but delightful selection of veggies and herbs. Moving to a rental property in East Charlotte, I was mesmerized at the soil, south-facing exposure and opportunity for so much more than toiling in the soiled North End. The past four years in Charlotte have turned my hobby of gardening into a career goal of homesteading. The first year the tomato and pepper crops were turned into 12 quarts of tomato sauce and 20 quarts of salsa; following years offered juicy cantaloupes and tasty celery – two vegetables I never thought I would be able to grow. And last year we timed and mass-produced 75% of the produce for our 120-person wedding and 50% of the flowers.
As I come to a crossroads in operating my public relations business out of my rented home, I look at the reality of agriculture in Vermont, the cost of living in a place like Charlotte, and the growing divide between those with money and those without. There are many younger Vermonters like myself who have the drive, physical skill, growing agricultural knowledge and marketing power from day jobs like PR/marketing/social media consulting to really make a go of working the land with a strong chance of being successful. But, unless we have a trust fund behind us, the financial reality of Vermont agricultural costs halts potential situations.
Mike Yantachka and the vast majority of the Vermont House (131-5) approved $2 million in funding for the first year of the Working Lands Enterprise Investment Bill (H.496), which acknowledges the challenges with the current financing system and recognizes the strength forest- and farm-based entrepreneurs source to the local economy. I write this letter in hopes that the Senate will support that funding so people like myself can help move agricultural systems forward and keep Vermont’s working landscape a working one. More information can be found at vtworkinglands.org.