Brookmead Conservation Area is 352 acres of farm and forest land in Norwich, VT. This property supports local agriculture, education, scientific research, and multi-use recreational trails. Enjoy the views of our rural countryside as you climb into the forest, or find quiet and solitude as you wander the miles of singletrack trails through the woods. The trails on this property connect with Norwich’s Parcel 5 trails, and the Blue Ribbon Connector trail.
Brookmead Conservation Area has five miles of wooded trails suitable for hiking, mountain biking, trail running, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. The trail starts from the parking lot on Turnpike Road in Norwich and heads west uphill through the farm fields and across the powerline right of way into the woods. The trail network boasts many vernal pools, forest types, and a remote cabin with a working outhouse.
Trail users please be aware that Brookmead Conservation Area includes land in active farm use. There may be young cattle in the pastures. Do not block roads and gates. Stay away from and do not touch fences – they are likely electrified – and do not enter pastures. If you visit Brookmead with your dog, please keep it leashed until you are above the powerline right of way and beyond any farm fields.
From Dan & Whit’s General Store on Main Street, go north on Main Street .5 miles to a left on Turnpike Road. Brookmead Conservation Area is about 2 miles on the left. It shares driveway access with the Norwich Farm Creamery. Bear left after entering and follow the drive around to the entrance to our parking area and kiosk.
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.
Research projects at Brookmead Conservation Area include a multi-year studies of deer browse, vernal pool research by Ryan Calsbeek and Craig Layne, and citizen science projects with the Vermont Center For Ecostudies (lady beetles).
UVLT grooms a portion of the trails at Brookmead as well as trails through the fields for nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Grooming these trails has been made possible by generous donors and trail users. Skiing and snowshoeing only are allowed on the trails through the fields. The main trails are open to winter fat biking, walking, trail running, skiing, and snowshoeing. Groomed trails at Brookmead connect to groomed trails at Parcel 5.
Food Pantry Garden
The Brookmead food pantry garden was established in the summer of 2019 and has grown each year since. Last year the Brookmead garden produced 4,500 lbs of food – everything from lettuce to potatoes – which was donated to our partner Willing Hands to be distributed throughout the Upper Valley.
Abenaki Land Link
In 2021, UVLT added to garden space at Brookmead Conservation Area in order to join the Abenaki Land Link program, a program begun by the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk-Abenaki Nation who partnered with Rooted in Vermont and NOFA-VT. Through the program, UVLT receives indigenous seeds from the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk-Abenaki Nation. UVLT grows these vegetables and donates the produce and seeds back to the Nulhegan Band for the exclusive use of Abenaki citizens. More information on this project can be found here.