Signs of Conservation

Click an image to learn more about a practice

Use #signsofconservation to tag photos of signs, practices, and leaders in the movement!

More than 7,000 acres of corn fields were planted with a cover crop in Franklin County last fall, and thousands more acres received other conservation practices such as no-till planting and conversion to grass crops. In fact, according to a new scorecard by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Vermont ranks first in the nation for use of conservation practices.[1] New roadside signs will help highlight this work that can otherwise be very hard to see.

“People driving around don’t necessarily realize that a lot of the farms here are already doing a lot for soil conservation and water quality work,” said Jeff Sanders, who assists farmers with many of these practices through his role at UVM Extension. “In the Lake Carmi watershed, for example, about 300 acres have been seeded down to hay in the last 3 years. There’s only approximately 200 acres of corn in the watershed at this point, and 75% of them are managed using no-till, cover crops or both.”

The signs all share the tag line, “For my land, For our water,” because conservation practices usually improve the health of soils and crops as well as protecting water quality.

Some of the work is required by Vermont’s Required Agricultural Practices, and some is entirely voluntary. Some is paid for in part using state or federal dollars, and some is done entirely on the farmer’s dime. However it comes about, all the work is important and worthy of greater public understanding.

The signs were produced by the Franklin County Conservation District, supported in part by a grant from the VT Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. A donation of $5 per sign will help the District continue the signs program after grant funding runs out, but the District’s priority is to get the signs out on the landscape regardless of donations. Signs are available statewide from Conservation Districts and other partners.

There are many ways farmers are increasingly managing their farmland to protect water quality. You can learn more about these practices by clicking the sign icons above, or by visiting your local field office for the USDA-NRCS, UVM Extension, or Conservation District.

[1] “50-State Food System Scorecard: Ranking the states on farm and food health.” June 2018, Union of Concerned Scientists. https://www.ucsusa.org/food-agriculture/food-system-scorecard

Sign Specs & Placement Guidelines:

Plastic foam signs are 18″ x 24″, double-sided, UV resistant and full color. A wire H-frame stake is included with each. Signs should last 2 or more seasons with proper off-season storage and care.

Placement and storage considerations:

  • Place signs more than 14 feet from the white line of any state roads or they will be picked up by the state highway crews. Restrictions on town roads may vary.
  • Place your signs where they will be visible from the road, and not blocked by growing vegetation.
  • Remove and store your signs when the practice you are advertising is no longer obviously visible (e.g. cover crop has been terminated.)
  • Remove and store your signs before winter. With proper care, signs should last two or more seasons.

Take a picture with the sign, the practice you are promoting (and yourself, if you wish!) and send it to franklincountynrcd@gmail.com or post it to social media with the #signsofconservation. We will use your pictures to further promote the good work!

Order Signs

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In your request, please include your location and the number of each design you would like. The simple math equation above is simply a Captcha to avoid automated spam. We can provide printed signs and wire stakes to organizations and individuals in Vermont for $5 each, and within Franklin County free of charge. For out-of-state requests we may be able to get you printed signs for $10 each, or it may make more sense for us to give you the designs and for you to print them yourself.

Thank you for helping to promote farming practices that protect and enhance our natural resources!

Article in Lancaster Farming

This article highlights our signs program and the leadership of Franklin County conservation farmers like Wayne and Nancy Fiske.

Signs of Conservation was founded and designed by the Franklin County Natural Resources Conservation District of Vermont, with funding from the Vermont Clean Water Initiative Program. Visit franklincountynrcd.org to learn more about our work.