Before the word localvore was invented, the Littlewood Farm was providing fresh food to the town of Plainfield and surrounding communities. Owners Joey Klein and Betsy Ziegler have been producing organic fruits, vegetables and plants for the local community for more than 25 years. On January 27th, Joey and Betsy achieved a long-standing goal of protecting their 32-acre farm for future generations by conserving it with the Vermont Land Trust.
“I have always envisioned Littlewood as a place that makes an important contribution to the health and vitality of the community,” said Joey Klein. “It has been a life-long goal of mine to provide my neighbors with a meaningful connection to the land through the food that I produce.”
The property is a short walk from Plainfield village and has been a popular spot for berry picking, bedding plants, vegetables, and swimming in the Winooski River for decades.
“Going to Littlewood Farm in the spring for seedlings and gardening advice is a Plainfield tradition,” said Alice Merrill, a member of the Plainfield Select Board.
In addition to direct sales from the farm, Joey and Betsy sell their products through the Hunger Mountain Co-op, Deep Root Organic Coop, and regional farmers markets.
“It’s not every day you get to conserve a community institution,” said Carl Powden of the Vermont Land Trust. “The love the community has for this property and Joey and Betsy is being matched by Joey and Betsy’s contribution to Plainfield’s future.”
The farm was conserved with the sale of a conservation easement, a legal tool that limits development, subdivision, and ensures the land’s affordability to future farmers. Joey and Betsy generously sold the conservation easement for less than market value.
Funding for the purchase came from state, federal, and local sources. The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board provided a grant that was matched by federal funds from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The Town of Plainfield Conservation Fund and 150 community members both contributed generously to the effort.
“The show of support from Town of Plainfield and its residents was truly heartening,” said Carl Powden of the Vermont Land Trust. “It was so clear how important this farm is to the community. We are proud to be a part of this project.”