In 2004, Mrs. Hilda Richmond gave the Town of Orford a small parcel of land just north of the village. She consulted with the Conservation Commission about her gift, and gave it as a memorial to her late husband, Gould S. Richmond, for the enjoyment of the citizens of Orford and as a place for wildlife. Bry Beeson, Chair of the Orford Conservation Commission played a lead role in the Town’s commitment to permanently conserve this parcel of land.
As is his way, Beeson proceeded carefully and thoughtfully, researching statutes that might apply and looking for examples of similar initiatives. He talked with Orford residents and outlined the necessary steps. He wrote an article and petitioned that it be placed on the warrant for vote on Town Meeting Day 2008. His proposal was not universally popular; however, Beeson continued to talk patiently, and with passion, about the conservation values of the property, the role of the Town in land conservation, and the wishes of Mrs. Richmond when she gave the land to the town. Eventually, the public consensus emerged. At their Town Meeting in March of 2008, the citizens of Orford voted to have the Town explore options for permanently protecting the parcel with the Upper Valley Land Trust
through a conservation easement.
The Orford Conservation Commission spent the year following the vote educating themselves about the legal structure and terms of a conservation easement deed. They visited the property and documented its natural resources and current condition, and developed management objectives. At a series of public meetings they talked about the Richmond parcel and the easement that would protect it. Similarly, the Orford Select Board carefully reviewed the terms of the conservation easement. Overall, says UVLT President Jeanie McIntyre
, “the conservation of this property included lots of different people with different skills and interests. I think it was a great learning opportunity for people to be engaged in establishing the legal instrument that will permanently protect a place that means a lot to the community.”
The Richmond parcel is in an area of Orford previously targeted for protection by the town and UVLT. With frontage on the federally recognized Connecticut River Scenic Byway, and Route 10, a state and locally recognized scenic byway, the conservation easement on this parcel provides scenic benefits to travelers in the area. Other features of the property include open farmland, woodland borders, and approximately 563 feet of Connecticut River frontage. In addition, the parcel has frontage on the marshland at the outlet of Jacobs Brook. The property will continue to be used for agriculture and low-impact recreational activities, such as walking, picnicking, or wildlife viewing. “The Richmond land is a really neat place to get some great views of the Palisades, and take a walk down to the river,” said Sara Cavin
, a Project Manager at UVLT. “It is a wonderful accomplishment by the Town of Orford to honor the wishes of Mrs. Richmond and preserve this special piece of land for the enjoyment of everyone.”
The organic dairy farm on Corey Hill Road known locally as the Meyette Farm, now owned by David “Bert” and Pam Vines, will be protected from development forever. The Upper Valley Land Trust (UVLT)
has recently purchased the development rights from the Vines on 320 acres of open land and forest that support their farming operation by recording a conservation easement deed.
The purchase of the easement was made possible through UVLT’s Blynn Garnett Fund, a land conservation fund established in 2006 by Blynn Garnett through her will for the protection of property on or near the North Road in Newbury. Blynn Garnett left her land and house to UVLT in her will. UVLT sold the property subject to conservation restrictions. The money from the sale has gone to support further conservation in the area, such as the recent conservation of the Vines’ farm. Garnett’s obituary expressed her wish, “I wanted to do it for Newbury. I love North Road and I love West Newbury and I want to help protect it.” Find out how you can leave a legacy at http://www.uvlt.org/legacy_giving.html.
Gilbert Meyette has lived and worked in Newbury on the recently conserved dairy farm since 1945. Some things have changed since 1945: the farm is no longer dependent on horses to tend the land, and the dairy was certified organic in 2006, but the landscape has remained the same. The property features prime agricultural soils, a stand of sugar maples, scenic hillsides, hayfields and pastureland.
Pam Vines grew-up in the old schoolhouse that is located across the road from the Meyette Farm. As a child she would assist the Meyette family on their farm by accompanying them on trips to the creamery. There, she would often be treated to an ice cream cone. Though Meyette sold the property to Pam and Bert Vines in 2006, he continues to live on the farm with them.
As UVLT Conservation Project Manager, James Thaxton puts it, “It’s an old farm with a lot of new energy. Pam and Bert are building their operation on a strong foundation and look forward to many years of farming to come.” The Vines currently milk 35 Jersey and Holstein cows on their hilly dairy farm, located on one of Newbury’s numerous back roads. They ship the milk to Horizon Organic in Buffalo, NY, where it is processed and then sold as fluid milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, or ice cream. While the price the Vines receive for their milk has decreased $1 per hundredweight this year and will likely further diminish in the coming year, the couple remain positive. The conservation of this property has provided them with funds necessary for the continued success of their business. They plan to grow and improve their organic dairy operation by paying down their mortgage, buying additional cows, and investing in needed equipment.
In addition to the financial benefits of conserving their land, it pleases the Vines to see land that has supported a dairy farm since 1900, stay as it is for generations to come. UVLT’s James Thaxton says, “Protecting the Meyette Farm will not only help to preserve the health and stability of the farming community in the region, but will protect the beauty of this area as well.” The Vines have been encouraged by their neighbors to protect the property in order to maintain the traditional rural character of the area. As Bert Vines said, quoting one of his neighbors, “This [conservation easement] is a way to conserve our little corner of Heaven.”