ENOSBURGH – As public debate floats around the question of the state’s water quality, Enosburgh dairy farmer Kati Lawyer-Hale wants people to know that Vermont farmers have long been doing their part to stem runoff and pollution bleeding into state waterways.

“Everyone right now is very concerned about water quality, and these are things that we’ve already been doing,” Lawyer-Hale said. “I don’t think that people understand the steps that we’ve already taken to make our farm more sustainable.”

Lawyer-Hale manages the herd of milking cows at the Gervais Family Farm’s home farm, joining her uncles, the Gervais brothers, in running one of Franklin County’s largest dairy operations. In the last decade, that operation has been one of the county’s more proactive farms in addressing runoff, something Lawyer-Hale wants to highlight as farmers continue to be in the center of the water quality debate.

“We want people to know that we are taking steps to help the watershed improve water quality,” she said. “And these are things that we’ve already been doing.”

The Family Farm

With a herd of about 1,000 cows being milked at any given time, the Gervais family home farm stretching across the crest of Boston Post Road between Bakersfield and Enosburgh is one of the largest in the county. Another 800 cows are milked at a second Gervais farm, Gervais Farm Two, several miles down Boston Post Road.

“They were really creative with that name,” Lawyer-Hale laughed.

Robert and Gisele Gervais purchased the land that would become the Gervais Family Farm in 1960. At the time, there was only a handful of cattle and a couple hundred acres. The farm steadily grew after that, eventually spreading out across the two farms on Boston Post Road as four of Robert and Gisele’s sons came together and incorporated their business.

Today, between the two farms are several thousand acres of farm field split unevenly between hay and corn. Lawyer-Hale said she didn’t have the exact numbers on hand, but knew that more of their land went to hay than corn.

For more on the Gervais farm operation and their efforts to improve water quality, pick up a copy of Thursday’s Messenger or subscribe to our digital edition.