Sabra Ewing has vivid childhood memories of long Sunday walks with her class at The Mountain School in Vershire. The children would follow the Cross Rivendell Trail to the clearing atop Flag Pole Hill, where a flag flies to this day. Years later the owners of the hill and its surrounding land decided to sell, and Sabra and her partner, Sebastian Lousada, bought the land, built their home, and started their farm business.
Sabra and Sebastian first raised Angora goats and Highland cattle. They planted fruit and nut trees over the years, and now have more than 80 varieties of apples for hard cider and wine.
In 1984, Sabra and Sebastian started an organic cidery, Vermont Hard Cyder; later, they added a distillery. Their award-winning products are sold at the farm and at restaurants and stores across Vermont. Visitors can enjoy tastings and farm tours by appointment.
The couple became interested in conserving their land through the Taylor Valley Conservation Project, a community-led initiative to conserve land within a 17,800-acre region. This area is important to protect because of large tracts of working forests, many hunting and recreation opportunities, and rare and valuable ecosystems.
This fall, Sabra and Sebastian conserved 239 acres, including their orchard, pastureland, and managed forest. Several streams flow through the Flag Pole Hill woodland to the Ompompanoosuc River. The westernmost section of the Cross Rivendell Trail, which connects towns on either side of the Connecticut River, passes through these woods. This section of trail is now permanently protected for public recreation so that future generations of Taylor Valley children can also enjoy these woods in years to come.
Above: the view from atop Flag Pole Hill
Below: Sebastian reads the guest log at the trail kiosk on Flag Pole Hill