verno’s family farm was once the biggest in Vermont, a staple of the American diet.
Now, the family’s legacy is threatened by a rash of land seizures.
“We are very much in the midst of an environmental crisis,” said Vernon’s son, Ryan Vernon, in an interview.
“The state is under a complete and total economic meltdown,” he added, referencing a state government program that allows small farmers to apply for grants to buy land for conservation purposes.
The program, which started in 2008, allows small-scale farmers to buy up land and build homes and businesses, while protecting wildlife, wetlands and natural resources.
In the past decade, the state has lost nearly 200 million acres of farmland, according to the Vermont Department of Agriculture.
While most of the land is in rural areas, there are now many acres in urban areas, which have been cleared for subdivisions, roads and high-rises.
Vernon’s farm is the biggest of its kind in the state.
Ryan Vernon with the farm’s first and only cow, who he adopted in 1999.
Since 2009, Vernon has had to scramble to find land to purchase and build his first home, a six-bedroom home in Burlington.
His second home, in Woodstock, is now nearly empty, because it’s being sold for $10 million.
He also has to sell his cows and other animals for meat and water, he said.
There are no signs of the ranch’s future.
A few weeks ago, Ryan bought a 20-acre parcel in a rural area and began working on a new ranch, but the plan fell through when he had to sell off all his animals and cattle.
So he’s building a new one.
On the other side of town, Ryan and his wife, Ashley, opened a small diner, a small barbershop, and a small grocery store, all in the former mill.
But their efforts are facing opposition from the Vermont Farm Bureau, which wants them to move to a larger property in rural Vermont.
Their main concern is that the land they own is going to be sold and put to the market, which will mean the family will have to sell their entire home and land holdings.
It will also be a huge loss to the local economy, Vernon said.
“It’s going to destroy our livelihoods,” he said, adding that he wants to preserve his family farm.
They also don’t want to leave their cattle behind.
As the land becomes increasingly scarce, Vernon’s family is trying to find another way to survive.
Last year, he built a home on a hillside just outside of Woodstock that is on a lake and is now home to his three dogs.
Ryan and Ashley have also started building their own house on a piece of land that they own in Woodbury.
Despite all the challenges, Vernon is determined to keep his family farming.
I want to do this forever, he told Fortune.
We’re going to build our dream home and we’re going a different direction, he added.
Read more about land seizures: Read this story about a new kind of farmer: