A Local Story

The following link may (or may not) take you to a story that aired on Channel 3, WCAX.  I have also posted the script, in case the site has been taken down.  Not sure how long they leave the video in place. – Lil

http://www.wcax.com/story/35559957/vt-farming-family-struggles-to-keep-land-over-developers

WALPOLE, N.H. – Northern New England is known for its beautiful farm lands, but what happens when developers start to take over that land?

WCAX met with a farmer whose business and farm are in jeopardy and found out how an organization is trying to help.

At Pete’s Farm Stand in Walpole a Vermont family is preparing for a busy season.

“Our two biggest sells are probably sweet corn and tomatoes,” said Teresa Janiszyn, Pete’s Stand.

The stand was founded in 1972 by Pete Janiszyn.  It’s since been passed down to Pete’s son and grandson John and a fourth generation is already starting to get to work.  “They’re here a lot,” said Teresa.

But the future of the business is uncertain.   That’s because John doesn’t own this land, he leases it.

No one is specifically tracking how many of these hand-shake deals are happening around the state, but the Vermont Land Trust say it’s very common.  About five years ago this land became a lot more valuable. It was zoned for commercial development making it more appealing for the owner to sell and that’s exactly what landowners around his stand did.

“It happened so quickly and we were so unprepared for it,” said John Janiszyn, Pete’s Stand.

Chain stores, not fields now surround them.

“It’s close to the interstate and other major roads, so it’s very attractive for developments,” said Ryan Owens, Monadnock Conservancy.

“How was I going to compete with Tractor Supply and these big corporations that were just ready to come and just swoop down in here,” said John.

It’s still a fear John feels today, but he’s getting some help.

Owens is the executive director of a nonprofit organization that aims to protect farmland from development.  “We’re primarily working through a tool called the conservation easement, which we are essentially acquiring and extinguishing the development right of the land,” said Owens.

The conservation has helped protect more than 300,000 acres of land in the Monadnock region. Eight of those acres are where some of Pete’s Stand produce is grown.  But John says if the rest of his land is bought, he wouldn’t be able to survive off 8 acres. He says the only way out of this is to preserve the land they have.

“Farm land is good farm land and let’s keep it that way,” said John.

If the land is developed, John says they will either relocate or hang up their farming boots for good.

But for now, they are preparing for opening day which is June 10.

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