On Thursday, March 23rd, NOFA-VT and Rural Vermont members and allies took to the state house to share their perspectives on land access, housing, and youth in agriculture. Lawmakers on the House Agriculture, Food Resiliency and Forestry Committee, and the Senate Agriculture Committee heard powerful testimony from Vermonters on the complex and intersecting challenges they, and their broader communities, are facing - and how we can begin to address them.
The second Small Farm Action Day of our 2023 series was a huge success! Community members joined NOFA-VT Policy Director Maddie Kempner and Rural Vermont legislative director Caroline Gordon at the state house for a day of learning, relationship building, and advocacy.
Kirsten Murphy and Jessica Laporte, both members of the Land Access & Opportunity Board (LAOB) joined to update legislators on the work of the Board so far, and to reiterate their request for $1.2 million in annual funding to carry out their critical mandate of improving equitable access to land and housing for historically disadvantaged communities.
As the Executive Director of the Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council, Kirsten Murphy spoke passionately and eloquently on behalf of the disability community, who have been historically excluded from land and housing ownership due to discriminatory and non-inclusive lending policies and practices.
Sadie Farris, daughter of Christine Bourque and Adam Farris of Blue Heron Farm in Grand Isle and a member of the Vermont Youth Council, spoke to lawmakers about how much she has valued the experience of growing up on a diversified organic farm, and how her family has struggled to build a home for themselves after being on their land and feeding their community for nearly 20 years.
Buster Caswell, tireless farm worker housing advocate spoke about the attention and investment needed to upgrade housing for farm workers in the state. Buster also shared with legislators a proclamation, made the day before by Governor Scott, naming March 24-31 as Farm Worker Awareness Week in Vermont.
Finally, UVM assistant professor Dan Baker joined the House Agriculture, Food Resiliency and Forestry Committee to present his research and updates on the state of farm worker housing in Vermont.
Several participants met up with their own legislators over lunch.