Alumni Tale: Dahlia Dill ’13

What did you study at UNH?

Animal Science

What were you doing 1 year out of college?

Managing a 40 horse equine boarding/training/lesson facility and transitioning to a position as a large animal veterinary assistant. While working full time, my (not yet)husband and I were establishing our herd of beef cattle and building a custom haying operation.

What are you doing now?

My husband Mark (who also attended UNH) and I joined forces with his parents in 2016 to establish Chandler Pond Farm LLC, a diversified family-owned and operated a farm in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Previously, we were operating 2 separate farms in southern New Hampshire, where available land base was scarce and expenses were high. Our ultimate goal was to find a farm with adequate land base, good soils, and the potential to support a variety of agricultural endeavors where we could combine our efforts. In 2015, shortly after we were married, we came upon our dream property through the Vermont Land Trust. The previous owner was looking to move on and we thought we had struck gold. The 250-acre farm had been home to a dairy and an organic, diversified farm over the years and boasted unlimited options for our growing business. We went through a lengthy and competitive proposal process before being selected by the owner and a group of industry professionals as the best-suited successors of the conserved property. Mark and I moved to the farm in 2016 and his parents followed in 2017. We were able to lease the farm for 2 years while establishing our business, and just yesterday closed on the purchase of the property. We raise grass-fed and finished Belted Galloway beef cattle, naturally grown strawberries, blueberries, hay, vegetables, and produce our own maple syrup from the sugar woods here at the farm

Did you have an international experience (study, research, internship or volunteer abroad) while at UNH?

In the spring of 2012, I visited Ireland with the course “Integration of Culture and Agriculture in Ireland“, focusing on agriculture in Ireland, and how it compared and contrasted to that in the USA. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be able to travel to another country and instantly have access to so many people willing to invite you into their homes and tell you the stories of their struggles and successes.

How do you feel your time at UNH has had an impact on where you are today?

As a land-grant university with a strong agricultural program, UNH offered a unique opportunity for me to be able to forge deeper connections in the agricultural community than I had ever recognized. There were numerous professors with real-life experience that were passionate about the industry and the lifestyle that accompanies it, and truly wanted their students to be successful in their endeavors. I took a variety of classes that touched on both animal husbandry and business management, which has been essential in developing our own detailed business plan and carrying out our daily work to meet our goal of a long-term, sustainable farm business. We’re in this for the long haul and I feel that UNH provided the building blocks to be able to set a solid foundation for our farm.

Why do you believe in UNH?

My freshman year of college, I attended a “prestigious” University in the northeast, touted as a first-class teaching and research Ag school. What I found was a disappointing environment that depended heavily on theoretical learning and a fend-for-yourself competitive climate. I wanted to be able to graduate and ACT on what I had studied, DO what I wanted to do, and develop relationships with others in my field- not just compete against them. I came to UNH as a sophomore, and couldn’t have been happier with the hands-on approach they offered, immersion in the industry, and life-long connections with professors and other students that were built. UNH has a truly unique appeal to those who are movers and shakers, who don’t only want to learn but also be INSPIRED to take action and apply the skills and resources they gain.