Coming Full Circle In Farmland Care

Farmers know that they must care for the land if they want the land to support agriculture. What proper farmland care consists of differs from farm to farm. The one thing they all share is a desire to be sustainable – ensuring that the land can stay productive for themselves and also future generations. Full Circle Farm in Seymour is a farm centered on sustainability. They are a finalist for the 2023 Leopold Conservation Award.

The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the prestigious award recognizes farmers and forestland owners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water, and wildlife habitat in their care. Full Circle Farm is one of the four finalists.

Full Circle Farm is very intentional in how they care for the land that has been in the family since 1890. The farms longevity is a prime example of sustainability to Valerie Dantoin whose husband, Rick, inherited the farm. Dantoin states, “To me, that’s what a sustainable farm really means…if something lasts for 130 years, that’s really pretty good.”

The farm, as most across the state, began as a homestead. The farm was on 80 acres where the family raised pork and had a large garden. In the 1940’s, the family transitioned away from pork and into dairy. When Valerie and Rick took over the farm, they built a milking parlor, milked 200 cows, and transitioned into the organic market.

“That was really really beneficial for the farm to stay sustainable as well,” said Dantoin. “Now our next generation on the farm is doing organic vegetables.” They created a Community Supported Agriculture and are direct marketing their vegetables. The farm raises beef and pigs for meat and chickens also provide eggs. Full Circle Farm has grown substantially over the years. During the summer, there are usually 8 fulltime employees to help with the vegetables.

One of the most important conservation practices used by the farm is managed grazing. “What that does is it keeps a living cover, a green blanket, on the soil at all times,” Dantoin says. “Hundred percent of the year. There’s a living root in the soil, so we’re sequestering carbon that way.”

The motivation for utilizing practices like managed is simple. “It’s just built into the DNA,” Dantoin says simply. “The name of the farm, Full Circle, means we went and looked back at some of the best practices that previous generations used.”