Long-term Lease Ensures Stewardship of Smokey House Lands

Caleb Smith (l) of Dorset Peak Jerseys and Smokey House Center Board President Curtis Rand.

Caleb Smith (l) of Dorset Peak Jerseys and Smokey House Center Board President Curtis Rand.

Smokey House Center and Dorset Peak Jerseys recently committed to a thirty-year agricultural lease, ensuring hundreds of acres of farmland will remain in production for many years to come. Since 2010, Caleb Smith has operated Dorset Peak Jerseys in Danby on Smokey House Center lands. This new, long-term lease recognizes Smith's careful stewardship of the land and creates new opportunities for Dorset Peak Jerseys to modernize farm facilities.

In 2008, Smokey House partnered with the Castanea Foundation to create a new life for the so-called "Harrington Farm" that Smith and  his family now call home. Castanea's support led to the conservation of additional agricultural land and significant facilities upgrades at the farm. In an effort to attract an exceptional farmer, Castanea and Smokey House developed an innovative "Equity Fund"  to provide some measure of retirement security to the would-be farmer in the absence of farm ownership. 

"We're really fortunate to have such a talented farmer leasing this land," said Smokey House Center executive director Jesse Pyles. Smith is well regarded for the quality of the milk produced on his farm and was an early adopter of no-till crop practices in the region, improving soil fertility and reducing erosion.

Smokey House Center maintains 5,000 acres of forest and farmland in Danby, VT, over 90 percent of which has been forever conserved. In addition to Dorset Peak Jerseys, Smokey House leases farmland and facilities to Yoder Farm - a diverse vegetable, apple, and berry farm - and to a number of other local producers. Farmers jointly operate a farm stand at Smokey House where their products are available for direct sale to customers. For over forty years, Smokey House Center has used its working landscape as the context for youth training and education.