History

The Mayo Farm (photo by M. Sweatman).

“Save the Mayo Farm” became the rallying cry that triggered the creation of the Stowe Land Trust as we know it today. It was in 1986 when Johannes von Trapp, George Rau, and John McVickar first became concerned about the rumored development planned for this 235 acre parcel on the outskirts of the Village. For years locals had been using the dirt road cutoff between Rt. 108 and 100. This mile long road wound over the farm’s rolling meadows which were then, as now, dotted with black and white Holsteins. It was felt then, as now, that to lose these open vistas would forever change the rural character of the Stowe community.

Under the leadership of John McVickar, a lawyer and then resident of Stowe, a land trust modeled after Cape Cod’s Falmouth "Three Hundred Committee" was formed. The local Stowe group was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1987 as "Friends of Stowe Conservation, Inc." A Board of Directors was named that included John McVickar as President, Treasurer and Secretary, as well as Trow Elliman, Charlie Burnham, and Merton Pike.

In 1988, with the assistance of Anne Lusk, the first paid staff member, the fledgling organization was successful in convincing the voters at Town Meeting to approve the acquisition and bonding of the Mayo Farm. At the closing, "Friends of Stowe Conservation, Inc." dba Stowe Land Trust, transferred the title to the Town subject to conservation restrictions. The responsibility for monitoring these restrictions was retained by the Stowe Land Trust.

By the closing of the Mayo Farm, Stowe Land Trust, or SLT, as it became known, had grown from a small handful of Stowe residents to a bonafide organization. New Board Members included Herb Hillman, Bruce Nourjian, and Katharine Greenewalt. Its purpose, as defined in the first official Mission Statement, was “to preserve the open spaces, scenic vistas and rural beauty in this unique corner of the world.”

Since the creation of the Stowe Land Trust, the organization has completed 32 conservation projects, five of which are owned and managed by Stowe Land Trust and conserved nearly 3,500 acres. Stowe Land Trust’s membership has been growing and fundraising events continue to be a vital part of the organization’s success. Though the leadership of the Board of Directors, staff, and membership support, Stowe Land Trust continues to be dedicated to the conservation of scenic, recreational, and productive farm and forest lands for the benefit of the greater Stowe community.