Selcombe is a hill farm in Brookline, Vermont that has been loved and cared for by the same family for five generations. The owners reflect on the joy and the benefits of a large land holding.
Winding your way up a tree-lined country road, you’ll know you’ve reached Selcombe when you spot the sun-dappled brick Cape at the end of the road. Constructed in 1819, the cozy, three-bedroom farmhouse still contains much of its original character with plaster walls, wide, pine plank floors, and a roaring hearth that have sheltered generations of Vermont families.
Over the centuries, land parcels have been added, increasing the acreage to its present 770 acres. Large, intact land holdings such as this are increasingly rare.
Just how big is 770 acres?
- How far would I walk in NYC to cover 770 acres?
You could start walking at the south end of the Park, visit the Natural History Museum, head over to the Met, then up to the Guggenheim, and still be only 2/3 up the length of the property.
- And in Boston?
Walking from the south end of Selcombe to the northern property boundary is about the same distance as walking from Fenway Park to Faneuil Hall.
Why does size matter?
With 770 acres, it is almost as if you have your own forested Central Park (which is 843 acres), where you, friends and family can walk, run, cross-country ski, mountain bike, ride horses, and swim in the brook – without the 40 million others who visit Manhattan’s Central Park each year.
With 770 acres, you can make a difference in the health of the woodlands, and, perhaps, the planet. Selcombe’s woods have been managed for 100 years to optimize the health of the forest and its wildlife. Its current Forest Management Plan is overseen by consulting forester George Weir.
Upon completion of the recent survey of the Brookline portion of the property, surveyor Gary Rapanotti, who has spent a lifetime in the woods of southern New England, commented:
“It is nice to see a landowner that cares about the land and nice to see the history of it. I see a lot of different parcels and I can see that yours has been cared for over the years. Most parcels are cut with dollars in mind rather than what is good for the land. I would have liked to meet your Dad and Grandfather – I can see they were passionate about their land. There are not many big parcels like that left.”
Just what is a Forest Management Plan and do I have any input?
“Your forest management plan is the written story of your woodlands. It contains the hopes and dreams you have for your land and chronicles changes to your woods over time.”
~Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
To create a plan, you work with a forester to list your goals and outcomes. Depending on your interests, it might aim to increase the biological diversity in the forest, improve wildlife habit, cut new trails, or develop best timber practices. Walks with your forester in your woodlands is nothing short of sublime as you learn about tree species and wildlife corridors and so much more.
How does keeping this 770 acres intact contribute to the health of the planet?
Forests have a huge capacity to sequester and store carbon dioxide. When properties are broken up and subdivided, a.k.a. forest fragmentation, it reduces forest health and degrades habitat. This leads to loss of biodiversity and water quality, while increasing invasive plants, pests and pathogens.
Selcombe’s woodlands are surrounded by conserved land and other big land parcels. This connectivity of forest habitats may be a key component of forest adaptation and a response to climate change. While there is the infinite pleasure of long walks, birding, or sustainably harvesting timber at Selcombe, it also keeps our forests intact and healthy, and this helps battle climate change.
This hill farm is for sale. To become the next steward of Selcombe, click here.
To see the Forest Management Plan and ortho map, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to download.
Formative Memories: 5 Generations on a Vermont Hill Farm
Selcombe: Family Scrapbooks: 1928-1938
Resources, Reports and Articles:
Click here to download the 2015 Vermont Forest Fragmentation Report
Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
Climate Change Insurance: Buy Land Somewhere Else, New York Times, December 1, 2018
My Land Plan – explore land planning