Rob and Alice Schenck began visiting Peacham in the mid-1960s, drawn first by friends and family and then by the town’s beauty. They deepened their ties to the area in 1987 when they bought 140 acres of farmland and forest at the eastern end of Groton State Forest. Nestled between two ponds, the high-elevation property can be viewed from a section of the Devil’s Hill trail in the state forest. The southern-sloping fields of the property have long been leased by Kempton Farms, the sole supplier of milk for Cabot’s award-winning clothbound cheddar that is aged in the Cellars at Jasper Hill.
Thirty years after buying the land, the Schencks began to think about next steps. “We always enjoyed the views, the quiet, the sight occasionally of a family of wild turkeys, and just the great beauty of the land,” said Rob. They wanted to make sure that the land would be farmed by the next generation of Kemptons, and that the forest would be responsibly managed. As long-time supporters of VLT, they reached out to us to see if we could help.
This summer, they generously donated a conservation easement on the property. They then sold it all to newlyweds Dylan Kempton and Brittany Regis, the third generation on the farm. Reflecting on the five-day period in which they got married and bought a farm, Brittany and Dylan both exclaimed, “It was quite a week!”
The young couple live in the Kempton family home where Dylan grew up, 500 yards from their new land. Brittany teaches third grade in Monroe NH, where she is from, and works on the farm on weekends and in summer. She mostly does calf chores—giving 20 to 30 calves hay, grain, and water, and changing their bedding. Dylan continues to help run the dairy, where they milk 320 cows and grow 500 acres of corn and hay. They plan to use the new land as it has been used for decades, growing corn and managing the pasture and forestland.
In addition to the cropland, there is woodland and forested wetlands that provide habitat for wildlife. The conservation easement has restrictions that are designed to protect water quality and habitat in the wetland areas. The property is near five VLT-conserved parcels, and directly abuts another one.
“Over the years, ownership of the property brought us a lot of joy and satisfaction,” said Alice and Rob Schenck, “We feel strongly that this conservation easement with the Vermont Land Trust will provide for protection against development and will ensure that the same sentiments we have enjoyed will be passed on to future generations in perpetuity.”