Stony Pond Farm Completes Vital Renovations with Help from Dairy Improvement Grant

Tyler Webb outside the new milking parlor at Stony Pond Farm.

Tyler Webb outside the new milking parlor at Stony Pond Farm.



Tyler and Melanie Webb have been milking cows on their first-generation dairy farm in Fairfield for over a decade and their production systems weren’t keeping pace with their business. Though they have spent much time and energy revitalizing the property since Tyler started farming 15 years ago, “we were still milking in outdated and inefficient facilities,” Tyler told us. They wanted to have the flexibility to increase their herd size and “also increase some efficiencies and work toward addressing present resource concerns, and future resource concerns, as water quality regulations continue to increase.” As Tyler explained, “It’s been a long term process of healing the land, expanding the herd, implementing infrastructure for capturing waste water, and then our land irrigation program along with our prescribed grazing and everything else that we’re doing. It was time to upgrade our production facilities—that’s how we make our money.”

As first-generation farmers who have put everything into rebuilding an old farm, finding funding for the improvements was a challenge. “Without outside assistance," said Tyler "there’s no way we would have been able to [do the project.]” He and Melanie applied for the Dairy Implementation Grant through the Vermont Farm and Forest Viability Program, and were awarded funds March of 2015. The Webbs have been involved with the Viability Program on and off since 2004, when they first enrolled. Tyler was drawn to Viability Program after he deciding to leave his job to farm full-time. “I was a disgruntled government employee, working on farms and in the conservation field, and felt an immense draw by the camaraderie between farmers I was working with. I was envious of it, and I wanted to be a part of it, so I quit my job and stared a farm,” Tyler explained. “What started as an advanced hobby and grew into a business subsidized by some other businesses— fence building and photography by my wife—continued to grow to the point where we needed some assistance and education about QuickBooks and business planning and number crunching and enterprise analysis and all of the things that come with it. It’s been 10-12 years that we’ve had some aspect of the program with us and it’s been a valuable asset.”

Stony Pond Farm, owned by Tyler and Melanie Webb, in Fairfield.

Stony Pond Farm, owned by Tyler and Melanie Webb, in Fairfield.



Their hard work and persistence has paid-off. This spring the Webbs welcomed their herd into a new double-six herringbone parlor. “The parlor feels really airy; it’s very welcoming for folks, neighbors and family to be around. It allows us to capture all the water, all the nutrients and efficiently milk cows in a quick period of time,” Tyler told us as we toured the new facility. In addition to the parlor, the grant helped them leverage funds that “allowed us to put in a concrete heavy use area, a waste water catchment transfer system to move more water into our irrigation lagoon. We installed […] an updated utility room, a new milk house, with future plans to install another bedded pack hoop facility. Finally we’re feeling like our production facility has adequate space for rearing and taking care of our calves, and efficiently milking our cows.”

Tyler told us they are happy to have finally reached their goals—for now. “We’ve met most of our production goals. We’ve shaved a lot of costs where we thought we would. We haven’t really added any more expenses, aside from direct ones correlated to adding a number of cows,” said Tyler. “We’re seeing a lot of production benefits—increased production per cow, which has been fantastic. Milk quality is really good. A lot of expenses have stayed the same. We’re feeling pretty close to where we want to be, although I’m sure my wife would disagree because every time we get there I come up with a different project.”

The Vermont Farm Viability Program is a program
of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.