FAIRFIELD — Stony Pond Farm in Fairfield received a $3,000 grant from the Vermont Land Trust for the farm’s new cheese facility.

The grant was one of 34 dispersed this month to farms across the state totaling $73,000 through the land trust’s new program for farmers affected by COVID-19 and the associated economic downturn.

“Receiving support from the Vermont Land Trust was huge—and timely—in helping our newly established creamery pivot and adapt to market challenges posed by the pandemic,” Tyler Webb, owner of Stony Pond Farm, said.

Stony Pond Farm posted a message to its Facebook community in April saying it was “trying hard to find ways for people to purchase our nutritious, farmstead cheese and grass-fed beef.” The post directed visitors to find a selection of the farm’s products online at Maple Wind Farm and The Farm Store.

The grants, ranging from $1,500 to $3,000, were available to help dairy farmers and processors transition to new markets and products, and to help non-dairy farm businesses adapt to new market conditions, such as online, direct-to-consumer sales.

“Farmers in our state are struggling and they need our help,” Nick Richardson, president and CEO of the Vermont Land Trust, said. “This is a moment for all of us to help them recover from this crisis, in return for all they have done to feed and nourish us throughout the pandemic. It’s an opportunity for the Vermont Land Trust, in partnership with dozens of organizations, farmers, and innovators, to build a robust regional food system that can last.”

Funding for this effort has been provided by the Lookout Foundation and Beatrice Birkin Thomas and James Thomas of Fair Lawn, N.J. An additional $100,000 in funding recently secured from the Lookout Foundation will enable the Vermont Land Trust to extend the program, which will remain open to new applicants. Funds were available to farms on land conserved or owned by the Vermont Land Trust with a significant financial loss due to COVID-19.

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