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Mount Grace Protects Multi-Generational Farmland in Barre

Woods with stone wall
Ruth Smith, Karen Clark, and Beth McGuinn on the land

Two miles east of Barre town center, a beautifully restored 1780’s cape house and a picturesque 1800’s barn sit nestled among 90 acres of forest, fields, and wetlands. This has been a part of the Smith family for five generations. Current owners, sisters Ruth Smith and Karen Clark, reached out to us with the goal of conserving the land in 2019.

Ruth Smith and Karen Clark donated the conservation restriction to Mount Grace this September, after working with Mount Grace Conservation Director Sarah Wells to permanently protect the property with a conservation restriction. “As an environmental educator and science geek, I am just so aware of the impact that our individual choices can make in terms of the health of the planet,” said Ruth Smith. “Having nearly 90 acres of trees to help sequester carbon felt like something that we could do to make a difference. Now something will always grow there, and that will help the planet in the long run.”

The property’s open pastures are surrounded by mature forest, vernal pools, and intermittent streams, with a variety of different forest habitats each hosting a rich diversity of flora and fauna. A 3-acre pasture to the south of the property has been leased to a local dairy farmer as working lands. “Protecting land keeps the pasture in local food production and is also the best way that we can ensure that wildlife can survive and adapt, even as climate change impacts our natural communities,” said Mount Grace Executive Director Emma Ellsworth.

Now that the Smith’s land has been protected in perpetuity, the family sold the property in October to new landowners who understand and cherish the value of protected land.“One of the most special moments of the whole process to me was returning to the land after the conservation restriction had been completed,” said Ruth Smith. “I had walked that land many times but walking on it when it was conserved felt like a new experience entirely because I knew it was protected forever.”