Energy & Environment

Vermont Conversation: Vermont Land Trust navigates a contested landscape

Worcester Woods. Photo courtesy of the Vermont Land Trust

The Vermont Conversation with David Goodman is a VTDigger podcast that features in-depth interviews on local and national issues with politicians, activists, artists, changemakers and citizens who are making a difference. Listen below, and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Podcasts or Spotify to hear more.

The Vermont Land Trust, founded in 1977, is one of the oldest and largest land conservation groups in the country. It has helped protect more than 620,000 acres in Vermont, comprising about 11% of the state.

The land trust began with a simple goal of conserving land and supporting farmers. But with heightened awareness about equity and racial justice today, things are not so simple.

Who can claim the right to land that was stolen from Indigenous people? How has racism shaped who owns land? How can land conservation help combat climate change?

Last year, the Vermont Land Trust received a $6 million grant from the Vermont Community Foundation and High Meadows Fund to diversify farm ownership and address climate solutions, of which $2 million is “to expand land ownership and access among people who have been historically marginalized or oppressed based on their race or ethnicity.”

This grant, the largest of its kind in Vermont, raises challenging questions, concedes Nick Richardson, president and CEO of the land trust since 2017.

“When a white-led organization like ours is the recipient from a white-led foundation of funding that's meant to be directed towards BIPOC land sovereignty work, that's the indication of a problem,” he said, referring to Vermonters who are Black, Indigenous and people of color. “It shows how far we have to go as a state in terms of meeting our goals and … commitments that we should all make around BIPOC racial equity and justice. And that's really uncomfortable and hard work. And we're really committed to it.”

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David Goodman

About David

David Goodman is an award-winning journalist and the author of a dozen books, including four New York Times bestsellers that he co-authored with his sister, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman. His work has appeared in Mother Jones, New York Times, Outside, Boston Globe and other publications. He is the host of The Vermont Conversation, a VTDigger podcast featuring in-depth interviews about local and national topics. The Vermont Conversation is also an hour-long weekly radio program that can be heard on Wednesday at 1 p.m. on WDEV/Radio Vermont.

Email: [email protected]

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