The Story of Brookmead Conservation Area
In 1995, Dale and Marlene Somerville donated a conservation easement to protect 18 acres of beautiful and productive hayfield. The conserved land was part of a 157-acre farm. For most of the 20th century, the Somerville family had made their living from harvesting the surrounding fields and pastures for their cattle who turned the grasses and grains into milk. By the mid 1990’s, Brookmead Farm was the last dairy farm shipping milk in Norwich.
As Dale and Marlene reached semi-retirement and prepared for the sale of the farm, they and their neighbors came together to talk about agriculture, land conservation and the future of farming and their community. Neighbors led a fundraising effort to pay for the legal and survey costs to conserve the 18 acres.
The next owner, Andrew Sigler, bought more woodland. He also reconfigured the farmstead and built new barns to breed Holstein show cows there. After he discontinued the operation, he donated the property to Vermont Technical College in 2015 and UVLT bought most of the farmland and forestland. Norwich residents and the Norwich Conservation Commission contributed to support UVLT’s purchase.
Today UVLT owns 352-acres known as “Brookmead Conservation Area,” returning the farm name to the land that Dale Somerville once stewarded.