Francie Hersey’s relationship with the forest next to her home in East Haven began decades ago. For years, she sent Christmas cards to the owners, who lived out of state, asking if they might be willing to sell her a small piece of their property. Those letters were eventually answered by a visit from a realtor, who, holding one of Francie’s Christmas cards, brought news that the family finally wanted to sell—but only if she bought the entire parcel. With the support of her daughters, Francie scraped the money together to buy the land.  She celebrates April 7 as ‘Vermont Land Day’—the lucky day she bought the forestland. This spring, Francie donated a conservation easement on the 68-acre forest, ensuring its permanent protection from development.

Reflecting on her decision, Francie stated: “Many of us cannot leave a lasting change for the better after we die, but those of us who have been gifted with the stewardship of natural areas have that choice… When I go to my forest, I am so comforted to know that this peace and quiet is preserved, a balm for me and those after me. I believe humans need a connection to the earth to be whole. I am grateful to the Vermont Land Trust for allowing that connection to happen.”

Funded by the East Haven Fund.

Francie Hersey in front of a small red cabin.