Stewardship isn’t all fun and games…

Notes from our work crews: Great turnout on a perfect weather day for the second to last day in November! Eleven volunteers all showed up at the Sheep Farm at 1:00 to do a final mowing and fall cleanup.  After finishing up the Sheep Farm in about 35 minutes the team split up, with a few of us going to The Merritt Family Forest and the rest to Avery Farm Nature Preserve, North.  The Merritt was done by 2:00 and everybody reconvened at Avery Farm.  We had 4 mowers going, weed whackers, pole saws, hedge trimmers and everything was all cleaned up by 3:00.  All three sites are done for the rest of the fall and winter.

Finally, the remaining debris from a previous work party at BeBee Cove was loaded into the back of my truck and got it to the dump by 4:00.   Very, very productive day.  Remaining work will be cleaning up tree damage from the storms.  Apparently, according to scouts, there is massive damage in the far back of Avery Farm.  It’s possible that we could get a NCRS grant to clean it up and build habitat piles.

Almost all winter equipment prep is done. The the tires have been taken off of the storage trailer, the built in jack supports lowered, (this trailer was a high quality acquisition!) and we finished the job in less than 30 minutes.One volunteer suggested we might be able to qualify for the over 65 NASCAR pit crew test!  Stewardship love enthusiasm, but I think that might be a stretch…

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2017 National Land Trust Alliance Excellence Award, All-Volunteer category

The National Land Trust Alliance Rally in Denver, Colorado,was attended this October by ten GOSA members in support of receipt of the 2017 National Land Trust Alliance Excellence Award in the All-Volunteer category. This prestigious honor was accepted, on behalf of all GOSA members and donors, by Joan Smith and Sidney Van Zandt. Individuals paid their own travel and hotel expenses in order to participate in the award ceremony, workshops and field trips.

Sidney Van Zandt, Vice President, and Joan Smith, President, accepted the 2017 National Land Trust Alliance Excellence Award in the All-Volunteer category during a welcoming dinner before 2000 participants. After a double Jumbotron debut of the three-minute video produced last summer by LTA photographer DJ Glisson, Sidney and Joan were given exactly two minutes to speak. Sidney, the second speaker, read aloud the “WRAP IT UP” warning, eliciting appreciative laughter, and arrived at a heartfelt conclusion. The audience was with us.

Joan posited that GOSA would not have been successful alone, citing appreciation of Amy Paterson and the Connecticut Land Conservation Council’s mentorship in governance and professionalism; appreciation of fiscal sponsorship by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association during the “Save the Haley Farm” campaign; and appreciation for the critical bridge loan by the Conservation Fund, which enabled GOSA to purchase the Sheep Farm just fifteen days before the option would have expired.

Sidney and Joan cited challenges faced by GOSA over 50 years: the planning commissioner who believed that grey-haired ladies could not manage a problematic property, and the Life Magazine articles describing “Battles Won” about Haley Farm and Bluff Point State Parks.

Joan and Sidney were dubbed the “feisty women” for the remainder of the Rally. GOSA made 2000 new friends and helped put Connecticut Land Trusts on the map, overcoming the differences in scale, funding and professional staffing found in many other parts of the country.

 

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A word from the President, Oct. 2017

GOSA News Update October 2017GOSA has good news to share! More open spaces have been created for you and your family to enjoy! The Candlewood Hill State Wildlife Management Area was created in March 2017, and the new Beebe Cove Vista created in September 2017, joined with GOSA’s other open space projects and properties.

Candlewood Hill State Wildlife Management Area is a 201-acre property formerly owned by the Tilcon Corp. and is situated between I-95, Gold Star Highway, Flanders Road, and North Road in Groton. State rules of use for wildlife management areas will apply, and a management plan, parking, mapping, and trail marking is under development. The site is open to the public but is currently unmarked.  We recommend contacting GOSA for up to date information about access, parking, trails, and tours. GOSA raised contributing funds and has a contract to provide stewardship services.

Why is Candlewood Hill WMA special? The rugged bedrock ridges, cliffs, ravines, hollows, shrubby swamps, vernal pools, streams, and historic granite quarries provide scenic passive recreational opportunities for all. The 44-acre pitch pine barren atop the ridge is one of Connecticut’s 13 most imperiled ecosystems and both are wonderful to see and to smell. Candlewood Hill was historically named after its resin-rich and inflammable pitch pine. Knotholes used to be burned for lighting, and the resin was used for shipbuilding, waterproofing, and pine tar soap.

Beebe Cove Vista was generously donated by the Fredrick and Robert Anderson families to protect the views of Beebe Cove for public enjoyment. It consists of four small parcels along the edge of Beebe Cove and Elm Street in Noank/Groton. While only .56 acres, Beebe Cove packs a big visual punch from its grassy strip next to a popular bicycle, jogging and walking route and sidewalk. The vista includes blue waters, a small marsh with egrets and other wading birds, an osprey nest, migratory ducks, racing sculls and small craft. Please be respectful of private lots and docks next to the Beebe Cove Vista parcels. We thank Frederick and Robert Anderson for their generous donation of the property.

Your participation is the key to this small all-volunteer organization do big things!

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Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge

Over the past century, many shrublands and young forests across the Northeast have been cleared for development or have grown into mature forests. As this habitat has disappeared from much of the landscape, the populations of more than 65 songbirds, mammals, reptiles, pollinators, and other wildlife that depend on it have fallen alarmingly.

Last spring, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposal to establish the Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge dedicated to managing shrubland habitat for wildlife and connecting existing conservation areas (including GOSA properties) in southeastern New London and western Litchfield. The agency has also identified nine areas in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. To read the full release, click HERE. GOSA is thrilled with the plan and hopes to assist Fish and Wildlife in its efforts to identify properties in the area that will fit into this federal conservation plan.

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Effects of Drought on Habitat Restoration Projects

The keyword this past summer for GOSA stewardship volunteers has been rain, or unfortunately, the lack thereof. According to the U. S. Drought Monitor, as of early October, nearly all of Connecticut (98%) is experiencing “severe drought” conditions. Perhaps you have heard that the dry conditions have led to a high level of fire danger and that the wells of many homeowners are running dry.

What you may not have heard is how an organization like GOSA is affected by drought conditions. Beginning in the fall of 2014, and most recently this past spring, GOSA planted hundreds of native grasses, shrubs and trees in selected areas of its Candlewood Ridge and Avery Farm Nature Preserve properties to restore habitat for at-risk wildlife including the New England cottontail. These plants depend on regular rainfall and the dry summers of 2015 and 2016 have meant that GOSA volunteers have had to think quickly and creatively to find a way to water the plants. Firetruck photo at left: Thanks to Fire Chief Derek Fauntleroy and Nathan Shank of the Center Groton Fire Department for their deliveries of water to fill our pools.

Pool photo: GOSA volunteers watering bucket by bucket the nearly 1000 plants installed with funding from of the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Long Island Sound Futures Fund and the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

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Edith Fairgrieve

 

GOSA Founders

(l. to r.) Edith Fairgrieve, Priscilla Pratt, Sidney Van Zandt and Omar Allvord, at the GOSA annual meeting Oct. 12, 2006, in the Latham Chester Store, Noank, where they were honored for pioneering contributions to land conservation in Groton.

Edith Fairgrieve, a former GOSA director and one of four beloved pioneers of the Groton land conservation movement, passed away on August 4. A memorial service was held in her honor on Sept. 12 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Mystic. Click here for more information about Edith’s conservation work with GOSA and beyond. An obituary was published in The Day on Aug. 17th.

Photo, left to right: Edith Fairgrieve, Priscilla Pratt, Sidney Van Zandt and Omar Allvord, at the GOSA Annual Meeting Oct. 12, 2006, in the Latham Chester Store, Noank, where they were honored for pioneering contributions to land conservation in Groton.

GOSA’s president, Joan Smith shared the following with GOSA’s Board of Directors:
It is sad to see the passing of one of GOSA’s earliest and stalwart members. As Jim Furlong once said, Edith had a moral compass of “true north.” Her legacy lives on in many of GOSA’s principles and projects. She made especially generous contributions to the acquisition of Avery Farm and to the Mystic Woods appeal. We admired her quiet but firm defense of the environment.

Click here to read more about Edith and her work in defense of the environment, including Sidney Van Zandt’s “Remembrance” from the memorial service.

Sidney Van Zandt’s “Remembrance” on Edith Fairgrieve

The following was written by Jim Furlong, former GOSA director, in remembrance of Edith…
This line… is pure Edith:

“Resident opposition, culminating in arrests on the day construction began, was insufficient to deal with a divided community backed up by the political clout of road builders and commercial interests favoring the Connector.”

In my earlier note to Joan, I think I failed to get to Edith’s essence as a GOSA member. Here’s another try:

Though she spoke quietly, Edith was a hard-nosed and uncompromising advocate for the environment. She was fiercely independent and took strong stands against contractors and town planners.  She would not think of tempering her positions in advance in order to avoid disputes. She put GOSA’s case as strongly as possible with the aim of winning the maximum protection for the animals, woods and waters she loved.

Cheers, Jim

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Constitutional Amendment Needed to Protect Open Space

GOSA’s President and Treasurer traveled to Hartford’s Legislative Office Building on March 14th, 2016 to testify at a hearing held by the Government Administration and Elections Committee on two bills pertaining to one issue: the sale, trade and gift of public lands to developers, municipalities, and others by means of the Conveyance Act.

The Town of Groton, in collaboration with a local representative, hoped to acquire 68 acres of Mystic River waterfront land owned by the State (now known as the Mystic Education Center, formerly the Mystic Oral School) for development. This parcel of land is one of the last undeveloped open spaces on the Mystic River. Both spoke in opposition to the Conveyance Act and in support of a constitutional amendment to make the process more transparent and protective of open space. Read GOSA’s Call to Action!, and articles in The Day and in the CT News Junkie about the plan, which ultimately failed.

In January 2017 GOSA learned that, once again, a conveyance of 10 acres of Mystic Education Center Land is in process.

Constitutional Amendment to Better Protect Open Space in CT  Responding to many the attempts over the years to hand over public land to developers, municipalities, and others with no intention of protecting it, Canton State Senator Kevin Witkos has called for a constitutional amendment to protect open space in Connecticut. People who want to save their favorite picnic spots, hiking trails, fishing holes, wildlife watching areas, and recreational space for the future should get behind the proposed amendment. David Leff, the former deputy commissioner for the state DEP who approached Witkos with the amendment idea, reminded us of our “sacred duty to be good stewards” of public lands. “No generation has the right to damage them or give them away.” New York, Maine, and Massachusetts have long had constitutional provisions to protect valuable open space from lawmakers tempted to peddle public properties. It’s time that Connecticut joined them.”

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Shifting the Mosaic: Creating Early Successional Habitat to Conserve Species by Syma Ebbin 3.29.16

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Why does GOSA cut down trees?

There are a variety of reasons why you may see GOSA volunteers or contractors hired by GOSA removing and/or cutting down trees. The key reason for this activity is that over the past century, many shrublands and young forests across the Northeast have been cleared for development or have grown into mature forests. As this shrubby habitat has disappeared from much of the landscape, the populations of more than 65 songbirds, mammals, reptiles, pollinators, and other wildlife that depend on it have fallen alarmingly.

Trees Cut Down as Part of Habitat Improvement Programs

 Protecting native species and the habitats in which they occur is an objective of a number of federal and state agencies and entities including the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP), the U.S. Fish & Wldlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and The UConn Department of Forestry. Private landowners like GOSA* receive grant monies and/or expertise to create these increasingly scarce habitats.  Our team of volunteers (please join us!) works tirelessly following the WHIP, CT DEEP, UConn Department of Forestry or NFWF work plans to restore meadows, encourage shrubby habitat, improve  streamside  corridors, and remove countless invasive species.

Some very recent and exciting news (January 2016) is that The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced a proposal to establish a Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge dedicated to managing shrubland habitat for wildlife and connecting existing conservation areas (including GOSA properties) in southeastern New London and western Litchfield. The agency has identified nine areas in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island as well.**

The Merritt Family Forest WHIP, a three-year plan to restore a former meadow area, was completed in 2011. The fields are now alive with birds and other key species. The five-year, 21-acre Sheep Farm restoration was completed in 2015. Eight dilapidated structures were removed and the ground planted with native grasses, shrubs, and flowers.  Old fields were cleared of invasive species and seeded with native grasses and flowers (image above).  The Fort Hill Brook corridor and five acres of a new forest have undergone selective tree cutting to allow light for shrubby habitat. If you take the red trail at the top of the Sheep Farm you can see where we have cut about two acres of trees.  The previously dominant and now removed black birch does not resprout; the maples do and have become shrubby areas where birds can nest and other species can take cover. About 50 at-risk species benefit from this new habitat.  The Greenbriar is thriving as are many highbush blueberry and other species.

Cutting down trees is part of early successional habitat restoration projects supported by the U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.  Trees are cut close to the base ( see coppicing** diagram at left) so that mature forest with little habitat value can become open shrubby areas with high habitat value (see drawing below). Habitat restoration programs are currently underway at Candlewood Ridge and Avery Farm, involving 31 acres or 8 percent of the 400 + acres protected by GOSA in the area.

To learn more about habitat improvement at Candlewood Ridge in the fall of 2014, please click here to read an article from our fall-2014 newsletter titled “Moonscape Transformed at Candlewood Ridge.” Click here to read an article from our spring-2016 newsletter titled “Shifting the Mosaic: Creating Early Successional Habitat to Conserve Species” by Syma Ebbin.

Trees Downed by Storm Activity/ or to Remove Invasive Tree Species

In 2012, GOSA cut down and chipped several large invasive Norway maple trees located at the entrance to the Sheep Farm because they were damaged by Hurricane Irene. Since we had all the equipment there, we decided to cut down the remaining invasive maples and add them to the chipping production.  The by-product of the downed trees can be arranged to make a habitat brush pile or we just leave it where it is; both provide good habitat.  Other trees were cut along Fort Hill Brook to give light so shrubs could grow and provide food for insects and birds.

Hurricane Sandy brought down quite a few branches and trees on GOSA and GOSA-managed properties in its wake as well.  Using funds provided by FEMA, downed trees were removed and in their place new native trees and shrubs preferred by native birds and insects were planted.

We hope that this post and the hyperlinked resources it provides will help to clarify why you have seen GOSA engaging in activities that seem counterproductive at best. Unquestionably, these logging activities are causing some short-term pain…but for long-term gain. Please contact GOSA at GOSAmail@gmail.com if you would like to speak with a member of our Board of Directors about your concerns.

Before and after habitat restoration pictures pending.

*Many people are surprised to learn that 90% of Connecticut’s forest land belongs not to the state or federal government, but to individuals and families. Federal and state programs recognize the importance of these private forest owners by providing them with information, education, and technical assistance in managing their forest land.

**Coppicing is an English term for a traditional method of woodland management which takes advantage of the fact that many trees make new growth from the stump or roots if cut down. In a coppiced wood, young tree stems are repeatedly cut down to near ground level.

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Life Growing Up on a Farm: A Conversation with Judy Weber, Owner of Avery Farm By Liz Raisbeck

How did your family happen to purchase the Avery Farm?

My father, Latham Avery, purchased the farm when he was 19 years old. His mother co-signed it with him, since he was so young. The price was $4,000 for about 80 acres and this house and a barn. The barn had to be torn down eventually and he built a new barn later. He bought the farm in 1928 or ’29 and married my mother Edna a few years later. My sister Katharine and I were born in 1934 and ’35. My mother had no experience with farm life but learned to do everything. Shortly after they were married electricity came—there was one line to the house and one to the barn. So they bought milking machines, which helped make dairying doable for a small farm like ours. My mother and father had a milk route—it was the only way to make a living in dairying back then. They had customers in Groton and Mystic, but they dropped Mystic because the Groton route was growing by leaps and bounds. They didn’t have any help except one fellow who came and cleaned the barn. Their pickup truck was their only vehicle. My mother did most of the milking. They were very frugal and life was hard, but all the farmers around here were in the same boat and we didn’t think much of it.

Did your father come from a farming family?

Not really, but his grandfather was a dairy farmer. My father was named after him: Latham Avery. He spent a lot of time on his grandfather’s farm and knew that he wanted to be a farmer from a very young age. I think he wanted to just be himself; he wanted to do what interested him, and that was farming and everything to do with nature.

My father had a dream and a vision and passion to see it through, limited only by his means and practicality. He was self-taught and read extensively about everything that interested him. He researched thoroughly farming methods and dairying. He talked to people of all walks of life and valued their opinions. I don’t think being a farmer as such was his dream; it was a means to an end. The lifestyle gave him the freedom, the environment, and the wherewithal to make his dream happen, which was to live close to nature and the land. Having an innate love of all that was natural, he was very aware of any changes or the unusual in his surroundings.

One day when he was sharpening the blades of his mowing machine on a whetstone under the sycamore tree, he noticed something fluttering down from a tree limb with a hole in it! He had no clue as to what it might be, and then another small object about the size of a golf ball dropped out of the tree, and then another. He went closer to get a better look, and there was a female wood duck and a brood of eight babies walking across the lawn on a march north toward the swamp, which had been drained. He wished them luck and mulled this over for a day or two. Then he called his neighbor and owner of half the dry swamp, asking him if he would be willing to help dam the culvert under the road, backing up water into the swamp again. His neighbor Jim Lamb offered to help and within a week they created a dam and spillway with boards to regulate the water height. The town helped by raising the roadbed and strengthening the bank, and the ducks had a home.

My father also raised wild turkeys from hatchlings. When all 50 were feathered out and could fly, he released the flock into the wilds of southeastern Connecticut. He didn’t live long enough to see the fruits of his labor of love, but there are plenty of wild turkeys in Ledyard now.

How did he learn about farming?

Well, farming wasn’t as involved as it is now. They milked their cows by hand and put up the hay by hand. He probably couldn’t make a living in the beginning. He only had three or four cows. He read a lot and talked a lot to dairymen that were doing well. He always wanted to have Jerseys as they gave such rich milk and cream. They were beautiful and could produce well on small amounts of roughage. Over time he bought pure-bred Jerseys from Vermont and developed a herd of them. The herd grew to 30 or so milk cows, which my parents took care of by themselves.

How did the farm grow from 80 to 307 acres?

My father felt that if you didn’t own the land you had no control over it. He only owned to the west side of Haley Brook, and he didn’t want to see a lot of houses built across the brook. Over time a number of properties around us were foreclosed by the banks during the Depression and after, and my father was able to pick up several acres that way. He was always interested in conservation and was trying to protect the brook. He wanted to make ponds for migrating waterfowl so he built a dam in the early ’50s. He built it all by hand from stone and cement with instructions from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Then, right after he built it, a hurricane came through and completely blew it out. I felt so bad for him because he worked so hard. He also stocked the brook with brook trout, but they were so wily he never could find them and catch them.

Eventually, my father needed more pasture so he bought the Cyrus Brown Farm, which had been the Erastes Lamb place. All these farms were originally from the Lamb property, which had been a royal grant from the king in colonial times. Our house was built in 1775 by one of the descendants of the original Lambs. The Lamb homestead, which was built in 1714, is the farm to the north of us and is still owned by the Lambs today. Anyway, over time Avery farm grew to 300+ acres, most of which was forest and wetlands.

Tragically, when my father died in 1958 of pancreatic cancer —he was only 47— we had a dispersal of the herd and farm equipment; sold it all off. That was very hard. At the time, we had one of the highest producing Jersey herds in the country. There was a problem when we dispersed the farm animals and equipment because the town divided the fields into house lots for tax purposes, but we were fortunate to get into the 490 program for farms and woodlots and the taxes became manageable.

How did you happen to get into raising horses?

After the dispersal of the farm, my mother got a job testing cows for health and productivity with the Dairy Herd Improvement Association. It was a program run by the state that helps farmers adjust the feed according to the cow’s weight and productivity. She would weigh samples of milk once a month, testing it for butterfat content, and send it to Cornell Agricultural School, which would send back a report with recommendations for the farmer. It was a more scientific approach to farming, which was very helpful to the farmers and increased productivity a lot. My mother did that for four or five years. She was very good at it, and then she had a bad gallbladder attack, which forced her to retire. She got a job at the “New London Day” as a proofreader. She was also very good at English. In the meantime, she bought a horse. The brush was growing up on the farm and she realized you needed grazers to keep the brush down. So she bought a Morgan weanling at an auction—I think she bid $125 and was surprised she got it. It turned out to be not such a good horse for her, however. My sister Katharine and her husband restored the home on the Cy Brown place, which my father had bought. She was very interested in horses. We had a pinto that we had gotten for Christmas as kids. My father knew a farmer with a Morgan stallion—he was so beautiful! So we bred the pinto to the stallion Bennfield and we got a beautiful bay filly. We didn’t know much about horses, and we called her Colty, and people kept correcting us
that she was a filly, not a colt. Anyway, we lost her, but my sister had a dream to get a pure-bred Morgan mare, which she did and then started breeding her to Benfield, then 20 years old. Eventually, we had maybe 12 or 15 Morgans, and several were champions. In fact, in 1970 we showed the first ever full brother-sister champions, Bennfield’s Ace and Katy Bennfield, which won the top ribbons at the Eastern National Morgan Horse Show in Springfield, Mass. Bennfield’s Ace went on to become World Champion stallion that year at the Grand National in Detroit. Katharine was an especially good judge of horses, and she knew quality when she bought that purebred mare.

What was it like for you growing up on this farm?

What was it like for you growing up on this farm? You learn very early about being responsible on a farm. There’s an unwritten rule—take care of the animals before you take care of yourself. My sister and I, of course, had chores on the farm. I fed the chickens and took care of the calves. The chores never seemed like work; they gave us a sense of pride if well done. Every couple of days there was a miracle or a disaster, it seemed. Everything is so magnified when you’re young.

We were very active in the 4-H program. We took our heifers to the county fair for judging, and we won a lot of prizes. If we won locally then we were selected to go to the Eastern States Exposition fair in Springfield, Massachusetts. That was very exciting. We’d stay in dormitories there for a week during the fair and show our heifers in the Coliseum with other 4-Hers from all over New England. Our whole focus was on taking care of those Jersey cows.

I can’t remember ever being bored. My sister always had a birdcage on the kitchen table. When the canary flew away, Katharine replaced it with a snake or a field mouse or a baby
rabbit retrieved from the cat. We also had a pet crow. It had the run of the farm and could say “hello.” It was remarkably entertaining. We swam in the dammed-up brook…building the dam was half the fun. We built huts in the woods and camped out, skated on the ice ponds and went sledding on the hillsides. When the brook was frozen we skated to school which was exciting, exploring places we had never had access to before.

On the farm my mother did everything. Besides most of the milking and cooking, she made my sister’s and my clothes, did all the cleaning, wallpapering, painting inside and out; she even made braided rugs, many of which are still in use. She was also the bookkeeper for the farm business. We had a vegetable garden, and the hired man had a wonderful green thumb. He brought in vegetables every day, which he expected to have for lunch, sharing, of course, with us. My mother would come in from milking cows and the milk route and start cooking up the vegetables he brought us for a major meal. We went to a one-room schoolhouse right up the road. We all walked to school. It only had a wood stove; we didn’t have electricity or running water. There was a woodshed and two outhouses. It got really cold in the winter, as there was no insulation. School went from first to eighth grade, and then we went out of town to Fitch High School in Groton. There were about 15 to 18 children, all from the farms around here. The older children helped the younger ones learn the basics. We knew everybody, and I really loved school. Our teacher was wonderful. She was from the area also. Her name was Mrs. Whipple, and she specialized in geography and history. We didn’t have any fancy playground equipment like today. There was a big stone ledge next to the school and parts of old cars. Our favorite thing was to get a fender and slide down that ledge as fast as we could. It was a wonderful childhood, growing up on this farm.

How did you happen to transfer Avery Farm to GOSA?

In 2011, I think, my daughter Sue and a friend, Karen Lamb, were walking Missy, our dog, when they met Sue Sutherland taking photos at the cranberry bog on Lambtown Road. Curious, they asked what the photos were for. She in turn told them about GOSA and their interest in acquiring the Candlewood Ridge property next door.

My daughter Sue casually mentioned the conversation to me, and we discussed what a blessing it would be if GOSA were able to acquire and protect the land and wetlands which abut our property on the southern border. We were growing increasingly concerned about plans for major development of that property, which had already started but then halted when the recession occurred. I called Sue Sutherland that night and shared my interest in preservation and protection of undeveloped land in general, and my own land in particular. The rest is history.

Nothing means more to me than the land. It is the only thing that is forever. My premise has been, “If you can’t leave it better than you found it, leave it alone.” Nature is amazing! I feel very fortunate to have made the connection with GOSA and their willingness to take the helm of protecting this beautiful property. I have every confidence that they will respect and care for this land and its resilience and beauty. Through their dedicated board, members, supporters and volunteers, the dream held by my parents and my family will continue.

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