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The Woods are Worth Protecting: Childhood in South Hero
I’ve shared some stories of my own childhood in the Champlain Islands over the years. Running around in the woods, playing in the brook, gardening with my mother, climbing trees with my brother. Those years spent outdoors taught me so much about the natural world and myself, and set me on the path to doing the work I do today: working with the South Hero community to protect the land that makes our community so special and helping folks get outside to enjoy it.
I received a delightful email last spring after our “Meet the Lambs” event at Paradise Bay Farm. Upon receiving an invitation to the event, South Hero Land Trust member Martha Cushman was flooded with memories of summers spent on Paradise Bay when she was a young child. She wrote to me to share some of those memories.
Between 1938 and 1984, Mrs. Cushman’s family rented a cottage from the McConnell family on the southeastern tip of Cedar Cliff, high above Lake Champlain. One of the memories she shared with me was of going to collect their mail and milk. <<(READ MORE)>>
A Place to Play, Explore, and Learn Together
“I like to take students outside to find math everywhere they look, to find their consonant blends or spelling words, or to see physics and kinetic energy in action.” Michael Moretti, who prefers to be called Moretti, has been working with teachers and students at Folsom Community and Education Center for the past year, helping teachers find ways to incorporate movement, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other healthy choices into their classroom activities. (Moretti is an advocate with RiseVT, and is embedded in two Grand Isle County schools.)
“Some adults argue that it will be too distracting to be outside…” says Moretti, “but being in the world they live in gives them the opportunity to apply what they learn to their world, to help make it more accessible and real, and see how what they learn matters in their life instead of just in a classroom.”
Big Town Market, Small Town Feel
For South Hero resident Nicole Vaughan, going to the Wednesday market with her family is a weekly highlight. It’s a place where her daughters can play; she can visit with friends; and she can pick up staples like eggs, greens, bread and cheese to feed her family. What makes the market special to her and many others is the direct connection it creates between farmers and the community. As she puts it, “we support our farming neighbors by shopping at the market, and their food feeds and supports our family in return. This reciprocity is what keeps our community strong!”
While there have been farms in the Islands for generations, before 2005 it was hard to find fresh local food in the South Hero and Grand Isle. The few farm stands that existed were small and farms relied primarily on wholesale markets. Island residents and visitors didn’t have good ways to connect to local farms or pick up food grown by their neighbors. At the same time, the community recognized that places to gather, and to celebrate food and community, were few and far between. But then a group of dedicated farmers and community leaders came up with an idea to solve both of these problems. (READ MORE)>>
Asking Questions is What Matters...
Chuck Hulse has a passion for nature. A resident of South Hero, you may have passed him on your morning commute, standing knee-deep in a pond on Landon Road, where he goes to survey for amphibians. Or maybe you’ve met him on one of our naturalist hikes. When it comes to natural history or conservation, there are few people more enthusiastic than Chuck. But you may be surprised to learn that Chuck is not a professional naturalist. In fact, he was dissuaded from the field at an early age, but his passion and determination kept him focused throughout his journey in life. His story tells us that it’s never too late to follow your passion.
Chuck grew up in a beach town on Long Island, NY. He was always happiest outside. As a kid he “would go down to where the saltwater meets the freshwater to watch the eels come in and grab a whole handful. Nobody else knew about them, but if you went there they were as clear as day, a miracle hidden in plain sight.” Chuck loved catching frogs in the pond, listening to birds, and exploring the nature around his neighborhood. These experiences were the foundation for his love of nature. He wanted to grow up to be a naturalist.
But when Chuck told his high-school guidance counselor he wanted to be a naturalist, he was told to focus on getting a “real” job (READ MORE)>>
Saving the Family Farm, and a whole lot more...
As you may have read in our winter card, Crescent Bay Farm was one of the first conservation projects completed by South Hero Land Trust. This spring, we sat down with Julie Lane, and her son Nick, to talk more about this third generation family farm.
In 1998, Fred and Gladys Lane were ready to retire, and like many farmers in Vermont, their land was their savings. They loved their farm on Crescent Bay, with acres of rich soils rolling down to the shores of Lake Champlain, and beautiful views of the mountains beyond. They had bought the farm in 1961 and run a dairy there for over 30 years. They raised their three children on the farm, and were deeply committed to the South Hero community. They wanted their son Dave and his wife Julie, who had been working alongside them, to continue working the family farm.
As Julie says, “Dave’s parents were great mentors for us. We were very excited about farming and wanted to buy the farm right away and start on our own, but they slowed us down and really made sure we knew enough to be ready, to be successful.” By 1998, Fred and Gladys knew that Dave and Julie were ready to take on the farm, but they didn’t know how (READ MORE>>)
Come for a Walk in the Woods
by Emily Alger
As the maple trees turned golden and the earth began to smell of pine needles and fallen leaves, I went for a walk in the woods. I chose one of my favorite spots in South Hero, Tracy Woods. And I invited Anne Tracy, one of the landowners, to come along with me. Meandering along the trails, it’s clear that this forest is a magical place for children and grown-ups alike. Anne and her older brother Charles (who passed away in 1989) had the run of the place while growing up. Anne says, “my grandfather was up in the woods every day. We would go up to find him, or just run around- the woods were my playground… where my imagination grew, where I learned to explore and love the natural world.”
Anne’s grandfather was an avid woodsman who invited hundreds of boy scouts from the Islands and farther afield to camp in the woods over the years, while her grandmother loved gardens. She describes walking in the woods with her grandparents, learning about the trees from her grandfather and wildflowers from her grandmother. She tagged along with her brother, who encouraged her to feel brave and independent outdoors.
A Magical Place to Be a Child
She explored the world of her imagination, playing in an area they called the Enchanted Forest, where (READ MORE>>)
Local Students Take Over for a Day in South Hero
“Community Service Means Helping the Community Become a Better Place”
What is community service? It’s “getting your hands dirty and doing things to help other people,” “helping people who don’t have as much as you or helping fix things that are broken,” and “helping the environment.” It is a “chance to give back to your community.” These are just a few of the responses that students at Folsom Education & Community Center gave after their fall Day of Service.
Busy classroom schedules make it difficult for kids to spend time out in the world, whether exploring nature or working in their community. The middle school teachers at Folsom School at are committed to changing that in South Hero. They are using community service to help students gain skills in problem solving and collaboration, while being stewards of their environment, and building deeper connections to the land and their community.
50 students, in grades 5-8, wrapped up a celebration of the new school year with an afternoon of projects that will help make their community a better place for all. From building a new bridge at Round Pond Natural Area, to gleaning watermelon and other vegetables at Pomykala Farm, the students were living examples of (READ MORE>>).