Four Hills Farm Bristol, VT
Them thar Hills
There are many rolling hills in the pastoral landscape around Four Hills Farm, but its name actually refers to a different kind of hill entirely. The four Hill siblings – Ron, Brian, Joanne and Kevin – purchased the family farm from their parents, Jeanette and Robert, who are technically retired, but still involved. There are even three from the next generation of Hills back on the farm after each earned a degree in a different aspect of agriculture: Elizabeth and Britney, Brian’s daughters, and Megan, Ron’s oldest.
Share the Earth
In 2012, the Hills joined the Cow Power program working with Green Mountain Power to harness the power of cow manure through a biodigester to produce renewable energy. The family’s goal was not only to improve the farm, but also make a positive contribution to the community and the environment. They also work hard to manage their fields for minimal ecosystem impact. A few years ago, the farm won the Conservation Farmer of the Year award presented by Otter Creek Natural Resources Conservation District. They believe strongly in the importance of educating the community about farming and have often been a stop on the popular Tour de Farms cycling event.
Something to Come Back to
“Our model is farming for a new generation,” says Chanin Hill, Brian’s wife and mom to two of the younger Hills who are back on the farm. All three young women grew up active in 4-H and loved being on the farm but headed off to build skills before coming back to settle. “They knew they were going to need to know a lot more than we know to succeed,” Chanin says. Her father-in-law was proactive in transitioning the farm to her husband and his siblings. “We are looking forward to turning it over to the next generation,” she continues. “We want to make sure the kids want to come back—and that they have something promising to come back to.”