Tree Farmers Vermont

You’re a Tree Farm. Now What? Part 2

Once a property has met the qualifications for becoming a tree farm there are several things one can do next. Here are a few more to get you more settled in the program.

After receiving certification continue to educate yourself. Vermont Tree Farm and the Vermont Woodlands Association host various educational events which will allow you to grow your knowledge of the forest. Workshops throughout the year take place throughout the state and are often directed by woodland owners or forest professionals. These workshops cover a wide range of topics and offer practical information on anything from keeping your land within Current Use regulations to tree pruning to grading and scaling of lumber and so much more! Webinar series are also offered throughout the year allowing you to learn about particular forest topics from the comfort of your own home.

Walk in the Woods is another great learning opportunity. Tours of other tree farms/woodlands guided by the owners themselves enables you to see other Tree Farmers at work and learn from their experiences while also spending some quality time in the outdoors. If you are up for it hosting a Walk in the Woods on your own property is a great way to meet and connect with fellow VT Tree Farmers. They offer you the chance to learn from others and share about your own property and goals.

Legacy planning is something to consider after certification. This important topic covers how your land will be passed on to the next generation. Legacy planning is a strategic process that takes place over many years, so it is best to get started as soon as possible. This can be a complex and challenging process, so legal advice should be sought regarding wills, trusts, and other estate planning mechanisms used to transfer land. The VWA and VT Tree Farm offer many great
resources help guide you in this process which can be found here.

Finally, post your activities on the Management Activities Database with pictures on the Vermont Tree Farm Website. In addition to the Tree Farm database showing each Tree Farm’s location and number, there is a Management Activities Database. This resource provides information, supplied by Tree Farmers themselves, on the projects occurring on their Tree Farms. This is another way to stay connected and to learn from or teach other Tree Farmers. To view the database on the VT Tree Farm website, click here. A tutorial on how to use the database can be viewed by following this link:

Tree Farmers Vermont Why am I a Tree Farmer?

Mark and Catie Raishart

Mark and Katie Raishart are the owners of Foxglove Farm in Leicester, VT. Foxglove Farm is a small farm and homestead that combines a working forest with agritourism. Featuring a log cabin which serves as an Air B&B, eggs, maple syrup, handcrafted jewelry and knitted apparel, trails for recreation, and more, the farm welcomes visitors of all kinds each year.

The Raisharts’ property covers 68 acres, 64 of which are forested and actively managed, located at the junction of the Green Mountains and the Champlain Valley. From the highest points of the property Moosalamoo, Brandon Gap, and the High Peaks of the Adirondacks in New York can be seen. The property became Tree Farm certified in 2016 and Mark said this was a way to better manage the property. Mark said, “Through my work in teaching (Mark was a natural resources teacher at a local technical center), my personal interest in forest stewardship, and in-depth research of my property, I wanted to expand and solidify my commitment to sound and diverse management goals on our property. Enrolling in the Tree Farm program was a way to demonstrate this commitment to visitors to our property and help my family identify and own that commitment as well.”

The Tree Farm program’s four core values of Wood, Water, Wildlife, and Recreation represent the priorities of the Raisharts’ management on the property. The Raisharts deeply value wildlife habitat, ecosystem vitality and overall forest health as Mark said, “To me, the range of wildlife we see on our property is a direct indicator of the quality of the forest.” The land includes a wetlands complex on which they view as a great asset to wildlife and something to take care of. As an agritourism destination they seek to maintain the land for recreational purposes. Mark also shared, “We deeply value the concept of the working forest – one that provides resources to our family. Harvesting timber, firewood, and maple sap have been important ways for us to maintain a working relationship with our land to help support our lives here. Meeting these goals means active engagement: trail maintenance, habitat enhancement work, removal of poor-quality trees, invasive species control, mast tree release, and work in the sugarbush.”

For the Raisharts, being in the Tree Farm program is about affirming and demonstrating their commitment sound long-term land management. To Mark and Katie, this means demonstrating it to themselves, their children, and the visitors and customers that come to their farm. It is about more than hanging a sign, although they do like to display their Tree Farm sign! It is for these reasons that they encourage other landowners to join the program. “[Enrolling in Tree Farm] symbolizes a commitment to [a landowners] role in land stewardship, and it’s an opportunity to access a community of like-minded partners and professionals who work together to advance that commitment.”

This community of like-minded partners is one of the aspects of Tree Farm that they value most. Being in Tree Farm gives landowners access to a network of citizen landowner that share the common goal of working forest stewardship. The ability to share experiences, ideas, and
knowledge is very valuable to a landowner. “Owning forestland is a privilege and a responsibility, and active engagement in the responsible stewardship of that land is a common value within the Tree Farm program,” said Mark.

For any new Tree Farmers Mark gives the advice to learn as much as possible. “A forest is a dynamic and responsive ‘organism’ that is both resilient and incredibly vulnerable,” says Mark. “There is always something new to learn about the forest ecosystem and what the challenges and opportunities are as we work with it. Try to understand what the options are for management, and be careful about making assumptions before you have learned more.”

Looking ahead to the future is something the Raisharts think about often and sharing their passion for landscape with their children and the next generation is one of their biggest priorities. Mark feels this can be done in several ways. One way is through education and making learning fun. “Turn every adventure into a learning opportunity and be open and honest. Kids take in everything, especially when they’re physically engaged,” said Mark. Welcoming kids into workshops and trainings with aspects tailored to them is another suggestion of his. This will help them feel the like they are a part of the forest community too and that the forest is as much for them as it is for grown-ups. Mark also mentioned, “More than anything else, kids need to have positive and immersive experiences in the forest. SPEND TIME OUTSIDE DOING FUN STUFF. This will inspire a sense of ownership, responsibility and stewardship.”

Pioneer Vermont

You’re a Tree Farmer. Now What? Part 1

Once a property has met the qualifications for becoming a tree farm there are several things one can do next. Here are a few to get started.

The first thing someone can do is display their Tree Farm sign and talk to others about being a tree farmer. Tree Farm signs should be displayed in a visible place, preferably on a post. Many place them on barns, but we do discourage signs nailed to trees. The Tree Farm sign gives a brief introduction to passersby on what the program does and what you are doing with your property. It is visible symbol of pride in stewardship and sustainable woodland management.

Displaying the sign may lead to discussions with others about the Tree Farm program. You can talk to others about your own tree farm or the program in general. Talk about why you joined, what tenants of the program you seek to promote on your farm, and what goals you have for your land. If asked about the program at large talk about how the mission of the Tree Farm program is to promote thoughtful stewardship of Vermont’s privately-owned forests. The program offers educational opportunities on woodland management, and advocacy & representation on forest issues.

Sign up to receive forest related literature. American Forest Foundation’s Woodlands magazine is a great resource to stay up to date on what is happening in the world of woodlands. On a local level, joining Vermont Woodlands Association (VWA) is a great way to support Tree Farm. Along with VWA’s advocacy for private landowners, they provide educational opportunities on forestry, both practical and political. VWA supports programs like Walk in the Woods, Women Owning Woodlands, and Woods, Wildlife and Warblers. Along with your VWA membership, you receive an annual subscription to Northern Woodlands magazine. Focusing on northeastern forests seeks to “advance a culture of forest stewardship in the Northeast and to increase understanding of and appreciation for the natural wonders, economic productivity, and ecological integrity of the region’s forests.”

Another step is to join the American Forest Foundation’s new virtual community called The Family Forest. The Family Forest is an online space dedicated to those who own and/or care about family forest land so that they can connected and share with one another. The space is
open to landowners, foresters, educators, and more. Through connection, education, and encouragement landowners of all kind can reach their management goals. To join this community check out their website here:
Tune in next month for more steps to take.

ATFS/AFF Pioneer

Pioneer Tree Farm Certification Preview

Throughout the past year the Pioneer Enews has delved into the American Tree Farm System’s Standards of Sustainability to help prospective tree farmers better understand the requirements needed to become and remain a certified Tree Farm. Now that that series is finished, in the coming months the Enews will be looking at what comes next after becoming a tree farmer: “I am a certified tree farmer. What’s next?”

Upon receiving tree farm certification there are several things a tree farmer can do some of which include:
 Displaying your tree farm sign and talking to others about Tree Farm
 Sign up to receive AFF’s Woodland Magazine and other woodland-related literature to keep you informed
 Continue your education by attending workshops, Woods Walks, and webinars
 Think long term and learn about legacy planning
 Host a Woods Walk on your property
 Share what you are doing on the VT Tree Farm website

The series will help prepare you for what to expect when certification is achieved, and help get your feet underneath you as you start in the program.


Advancing Integrity with the New Improved Forest Management Methodology

International leaders have called for greater integrity in carbon accounting to ensure the long-term success of voluntary carbon markets. To meet this need, the American Forest Foundation, The Nature Conservancy and TerraCarbon have pioneered a new approach for calculating a carbon benefit that increases accuracy and transparency. This new methodology does not base its calculations on the commonly used projected baseline, which can be limiting. Rather, this methodology uses a dynamic baseline, which makes it possible to accurately attribute a carbon project and its associated forest practices as the sole intervention responsible for the additional carbon sequestration and storage. This new methodology is approved by Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard.

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ATFS Standard #8: Forest Product Harvests and Other Activities

The final article of this series looking at American Tree Farm System’s Standards of Sustainability brings us to Standard #8: Forest Product Harvests and Other Activities. Forest product harvests and other management activities are conducted in accordance with the landowner’s objectives and consider other forest values.

Standard #8 encourages the use of qualified professionals when conducting timber harvests and other management activities. The standard helps ensure that proper logging paperwork is completed before a timbersale is performed. It also relates to consulting foresters, truckers and others who may be involved in a harvest project.

Many states require licensure or registration to be a natural resource professional or logger. Vermont is one of these states as consulting foresters must be licensed which proves their knowledge of and experience within the industry. Loggers are not required to be licensed, but many do receive training and qualification through the Logger Education to Advance Professionalism program (LEAP). Finding the right logger for a project is something to discuss with your consulting forester.

When choosing a logger, it is important that they carry insurance, and comply with appropriate federal, state, and local safety laws. They should also comply with fair labor rules, regulations, and standard practices. When drawing up contracts check with your forester to determine the insurance rates and coverages. Contracts cover labor-related topics like payment rates, workman’s compensation, and performance bonds, as well as environmental concerns like protecting soil and water integrity, litter control, and working in accordance with AFF Standards. Landowners should keep contracts and records of management activities for at least three years.

The Standard also requires the landowner or a designated representative to monitor the harvest or activity. This ensures it is being done in a way that aligns with the landowner’s objectives, the contract is being followed, and the project is being completed in proper manner. Your consulting forester can be hired to be your representative for a project, and county foresters can also help answer any questions you may have.

All in all, to fulfill Standard #8 find a logger and consulting forester that have them same mindset as you when it comes to management activities. Have everything spelled out clearly in a contract and maintain records of the project. Although this standard is specifically addressing using professionals, it does not exclude a landowner from doing their own harvests, habitat or timber stand improvement work, water quality, recreation, or any other implementation of their management plan. As long as the work a landowner is completing is part of the management plan, and they follow the previous standards for the Tree Farm program, then they will still meet this standard.


New Approach to Forest Carbon Accounting Aims to Enhance Accuracy & Transparency

A first-of-its-kind carbon accounting methodology for Improved Forest Management (IFM), designed to provide more measurable proof of climate impact and to solve access challenges for small forest landowners, has officially been approved for use in the United States and around the world.

Developed by the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to be used for the organizations’ Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP), the methodology was approved by Verra’s Verified Carbon Standard, the world’s most widely used voluntary greenhouse gas program, after a rigorous, multi-year evaluation process.

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First-Ever Family Forest Carbon Program Partner Retreat Tackles Carbon Market Opportunity for Family Forests

While carbon markets are always evolving, there’s one constant: the need for collective action. The work of the Family Forest Carbon Program is possible thanks to the efforts and support of our buyers, donors and scientific partners. That’s why the American Forest Foundation was excited to host the first-ever Family Forest Carbon Program Partner Retreat last week, bringing together climate leaders across sectors and industries.

Revenue from carbon markets can provide the income landowners need to keep their land and help it flourish with climate-smart forestry practices.

Partners gathered in Shrewsbury, Vermont to see the impact of the Family Forest Carbon Program firsthand, meet one of the program’s enrolled forest owners and discuss opportunities for scaling the program to unlock the potential of thousands more forest owners in the years to come.

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Three Carbon Market Takeaways from Climate Week 2022

This year’s Climate Week brought together global climate leaders from business, government, NGOs and civil society with the theme of “Getting It Done.” The American Forest Foundation was among the participants that discussed critical challenges and innovative solutions developing within the voluntary carbon market. Here are three important themes we identified for investors and corporate buyers.

What we are trying to do is reach down and say, could we actually get to a 30-acre landowner? Through [FFCP], we are providing climate benefits at scale, but implementing locally. Local foresters, local forest management and local resources.

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ATFS/AFF Tree Farmers

The American Forest Foundation Expands Access to Carbon Markets for Underserved Landowners

The American Forest Foundation (AFF), a national conservation non-profit that specializes in family-owned forestland, today announced that Bank of America has provided a $230,000 grant to help support AFF’s Family Forest Carbon Program. The program is uniquely designed to provide small-acreage and underserved landowners access to carbon markets.

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