The High Meadows Fund promotes vibrant communities and a healthy natural environment while encouraging long term economic vitality in Vermont.
Decisions such as how and where to farm, harvest timber, or build, and whether to invest in clean energy, green infrastructure, or waste reduction should make communities stronger, more vibrant and equitable. They should also make Vermont more resilient to the changing climate. Too often, these choices instead make us more vulnerable.
Resilience means the capacity not just to bounce back from stresses and disruptive events, but also to plan and act in the face of risks, challenges, and opportunities. Strengthening a community's vitality and resilience requires:
- Building markets that retain wealth, rather than extracting it from the region;
- Fostering land use planning at a watershed level, not just as individual municipalities;
- Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change;
- Preparing for more frequent, severe storms and other consequences of climate change;
- Collaborating across areas of expertise, such as housing, energy and public health.
It is critical for low-income Vermonters to share in the benefits of efficient and clean energy use, green infrastructure and other responses to climate change.
The High Meadows Fund supports leadership and innovation in three areas: land use, farm and forest enterprise and energy. We do our work through charitable grantmaking, research, convenings, direct engagement, and investing for mission impact. Our intent is to be respectfully involved as partners with the organizations we fund and with our colleagues in the funding community.
High Meadows made its first grants in 2004. The 2014 video below highlights three initiatives where we have provided grant support, research funding or mission investments. It also expresses our deep gratitude to those with whom we have partnered since our founding.
Some examples of initiatives High Meadows has supported include:
Ayers Brook Goat Dairy
Through the leadership of the Castanea Foundation, the High Meadows Fund and the John Merck Fund joined Castanea to establish Evergreen Conservation Partners to purchase a former dairy just outside Randolph Center, Vermont. After Vermont Creamery raised the necessary capital to finance the fit-up of Ayers Brook Goat Dairy (ABGD), Evergreen Partners financed the sale of the farm to ABGD. The goal of this mission investment is to spark a vibrant goat dairy industry in Vermont. This will help high quality cheese makers such as Vermont Creamery use locally produced milk, provide good income to farmers, and lower their environmental footprint.
Making energy improvements easier to monitor
Housing Vermont has invested precious resources in clean energy and efficiency improvements. The initial results didn't lead to the savings they expected. With High Meadows support, they developed a way to monitor the performance of their buildings remotely so their building managers could intervene if needed. This "Parsons Platform", has helped Housing Vermont confirm the savings accruing from efficiency investments, solar energy or pellet boiler installations.
Affordable, highly energy efficient homes
After mobile homes were over-represented among the homes damaged during Tropical Storm Irene, the High Meadows Fund convened a group of housing and energy efficiency experts to explore affordable, energy efficient alternatives to traditional mobile homes. Collaboration among Efficiency Vermont, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and many others led to the construction and siting of more than 40 high performance homes. In Vergennes, Hardwick, Shelburne, Hartford, and Putney, Vermonters are enjoying healthy, comfortable homes powered by clean energy with minimal energy costs. In Wilder, Vermod employs twelve Vermonters, building these homes.