Kimberly & Anna at Open View Farm

From 2007 to 2012 the number of sheep farms in Vermont increased 27%, and the number of sheep increased by 35%.

However, for a variety of reasons, many sheep farmers have struggled to turn a profit. At the same time, growing interest in natural non-toxic materials as insulation for buildings could provide a market for raw wool. Insulation made from wool is already produced in Europe and in locations in the western United States.

Sheep must be sheared regularly in order to remain healthy, but there is not a ready market for the wool that is collected. This has meant that farmers often store bags and bags of the wool in their barns, accumulating a product that doesn't have a place to go.

About the Project

Grazing Sheep

Kimberly Hagen of the Center's Pasture Program (and herself a long-time sheep farmer) became aware that in other places, including Europe and the western US, enterprising farmers and interested partners in the building trades were turning wool into building insulation. Suzy Hodgson, the Center's Sustainable Agriculture Outreach Specialist, also saw the intrinsic properties of Vermont wool as a possible energy efficient and renewable home material.

In fall 2016, with funding from a USDA Rural Development grant in place and support from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, the team announced a one-year feasibility study with the purpose of learning whether this is a possible fit for the needs of Vermont's shepherds and its green building trade. The project officially launched on January 1, 2017.

Project Team

 

Interested in knowing more about the Center's work or do you have a question we haven't answered here? Contact us via email or 802-656-5459 and we'll do our best to help.

 

Woodcut of a farm with people gathering produce and cows grazing

Contact

  • Help with a plan for grazing your livestock:  Kimberly Hagen at  802-656-3834 or.kimberly.hagen@uvm.edu
  • General inquiries and potential partnerships: Jenn Colby at 802-535-7606 or jcolby@uvm.edu
  • Vermont Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program Education Coordinator Mary Ellen Franklin at MaryEllen.Franklin@uvm.edu
  • Pasture walks and other upcoming events: Colene Reed at colene.reed@uvm.edu
  • Help with your Connecticut River watershed farm, including nutrient management and other water quality-related issues: Laura Johnson at laura.o.johnson@uvm.edu
  • Research questions or ideas: Juan Alvez at 802-656-6116 or juan.alvez@uvm.edu
  • Include pasture-related events in online or email Pasture Calendars: Cheryl Herrick at cheryl.herrick@uvm.edu

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