Farmers cooperate on water-quality effort

MEETING PLACE PASTURES co-owner Marc Cesario (with mustache) gives 10 water testing volunteers a tour of his farm late last month to explain the practices they use to protect water quality.

CORNWALL — On one of the rare sunny days last month, two county organizations dedicated to advancing water quality — Addison County River Watch Collaborative and the Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition — got a chance to hang out and exchange ideas at Meeting Place Pastures in Cornwall.

The July 25 event, dubbed “Water Quality on the Farm,” was billed as an opportunity for River Watch volunteers “to hear and see the experiences of farmers who are striving to protect rivers and streams as they practice farming and stewarding the land.” It is the latest manifestation of an ongoing partnership between the two organizations, which includes water sampling on select CVFC member farms.

Ten River Watch volunteers attended.

“It was great,” River Watch Executive Director Matthew Witten said of the event. “I think our volunteers learned a lot, and I think farmers learned a lot about what volunteers are concerned about.”

Speakers included CVFC Executive Director John Roberts, Vermont Agency of Agriculture Water Quality Specialist Sonia Howlett and Cheryl and Marc Cesario, who own and operate Meeting Place Pastures farm.

“As livestock producers, we appreciated being included in the Addison County River Watch training for their volunteers,” Cheryl Cesario told the Independent. “Land that we manage is adjacent to six of their sampling locations, so it was a great opportunity to be part of the conversation and to share more about our operation. Farmers across the county are working hard to be good land stewards and meet water quality regulations, and I think it’s important for those of us in agriculture to show up and talk about what we do. I thought the group asked really good questions and really took an interest in how we manage our land.”

Addison County River Watch Collaborative’s mission is to monitor and assess the condition and uses of local rivers over time, raise public awareness of the values and functions of local watersheds, and support stewardship that improves water quality.

The Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition is dedicated to protecting water quality in Lake Champlain and supporting a thriving agricultural economy in Vermont by helping farmers adopt and implement innovative agricultural practices.

The following websites provide more information about these organizations:

Addison County River Watch Collaborative:

Champlain Valley Farmer Coalition:

Meeting Place Pastures:

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