The first thing city girl Alison Kosakowski-Conant learned when she joined her husband’s eighth-generation farming family was not to make any firm plans from early April through Thanksgiving. She quickly realized that farmers must truly make hay (or do any other number of weather-dependent tasks) while the sun shines. After a spring of preparing all the equipment for fieldwork and getting fencing repaired for animals out on pasture, “You know it’s all going to break loose,” her mother-in-law, Deb, says with a smile. “There will be four million shades of green on the hillside and endless days filled with cows and crops.”
Alison’s husband, Ransom, is the latest in a long line to farm the fertile river valley since 1854, but their farming future has not always been assured. After Dave’s father passed away suddenly, Gloria Conant was left with the farm and six children aged 11 to 17. With the help of her oldest sons and key employees, she ran the farm at a time when it was rare for women to do so. Gloria was a powerhouse who was later elected to the state legislature and named both National Dairy Woman of the Year and the inaugural inductee to the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Farm.
Conant’s Riverside Farm is one of the most recognized dairy farms in Vermont, with its popular sweet corn stand and landmark three-story red barn visible from a major highway. The farm stand, Deb explains, “brings people to the farm and helps people understand what it takes to make food.” He son Ransom adds, “We need people to make food. We think we can do it pretty well and have a good life, too.”