FRANKLIN — Thursday evening’s meeting of the Lake Carmi TMDL Implementation Team ended in a way that might have seemed impossible months ago, when meetings were so tense that unsettled state workers relied on armed game wardens to keep irate residents at bay.

Surely the fact that farmers, the missing link in these months of contentious Carmi meetings, filled half the room at the Franklin Homestead last night would only amplify those tensions.

Instead, the meeting ended with Judith McLaughlin, a regularly outspoken attendee at these meetings, declaring that everyone, residents, farmers, even state employees, deserved a round of applause.

And everyone applauded.

Public comment at these meetings has regularly ended with fingers pointed at farmers or at state regulation of farming.

Heather Darby’s comments at this meeting seemed like the first direct communication from farmers since Carmi meetings turned sour last August, in the midst of one of the lake’s worst cyanobacteria outbreaks.

Darby is an agronomic and soils specialist for the University of Vermont Extension, and a regular fixture on Franklin County farms.

As the Vermont Agency of Agriculture’s John Roberts put it last night, farmers “seem to find it easier to talk to Heather than to the agency’s inspectors.”

So Darby’s comments on soil sampling in the Lake Carmi watershed last night seemed to hold more weight than the months of similar remarks from agency officials.

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