In January 2011, the Gilmore family began the process of conserving Echo Mountain Farm. The farm has been in their family since Joshua Campbell first settled the land in 1791.
Peter and Lucy Gilmore and two of their children, Alan and Andy, currently operate the dairy farm. To expand the business for the next generation, the family decided it needed to buy more land. To help finance the purchase of 87 neighboring acres, the Gilmores sold a conservation easement on 309 acres to the Vermont Land Trust.
"We wanted to keep our Bicentennial Farm in the family and a working farm and this land was very important to make this possible," said Andy Gilmore.
The conservation easement limits development and contains a clause to ensure that the land will always be affordable to future farmers, should the Gilmore's ever sell their farm. Funding for this purchase of the easement came from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board with matching funds from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, along with private donations. The financial assistance from VHCB and NRCS help make it possible to permanently protect Vermont's highest quality
In addition, the Gilmores donated 62 acres along the mountain ridge to the Town of Tinmouth. This land will be added to the existing 199-acre town forest. It will also contain a section of a future trail that is has been a goal of the Tinmouth Land Trust for years.
Joining with the Gilmores were several neighbors who donated conservation easements on their land and helped with fundraising for the project.
Adam Guettel, a composer-lyricist of musical theater and opera, played a critical role in orchestrating this complex project. "With his passion for Tinmouth's farming heritage and personal commitment to conserve his own land, Adam inspired others and VLT to join him in conserving Tinmouth Mountain," said Gil Livingston, President of the Vermont Land Trust.
Guettel's sister, Kim Beaty, a portrait and landscape painter, also donated a conservation easement, as did Bob and Sue Lloyd, long-time residents and involved citizens of Tinmouth, and several other members of the Lloyd family. Together these neighbors donated conservation easements on 585 acres of forestland they individually own surrounding the Gilmore farm. Portions of this land will further the development of a trail across the mountain.
A community fund-raising effort raised approximately $180,000 for the project. Neighbors' contributions helped galvanize support from funders for the purchase of the Gilmore conservation easements. The Freeman Foundation also gave its support to the project by contributing towards the future stewardship of the land.
"It was the Tinmouth community that once again pulled together to protect something precious to their town: a working family farm, the ability to get out and enjoy the woods, and a beautiful mountain," said Donald Campbell of the Vermont Land Trust.
About the Vermont Land Trust: The Vermont Land Trust is a statewide, member-supported, nonprofit land conservation organization. Since 1977, the Vermont Land Trust has permanently conserved more than 1,750 parcels of land covering 525,000 acres, or nearly nine percent of the private, undeveloped land in the state. The conserved land includes more than 750 working farms, hundreds of thousands of acres of productive forestland, and numerous parcels of community lands. This conservation work changes the lives of families, invigorates farms, launches new businesses, maintains scenic vistas, encourages recreational opportunity, and fosters a renewed sense of community.