Seventh Generation Robie Farm Conserved in Piermont

PIERMONT – A historic family farm well known in the Connecticut River valley for its superb artisan cheeses and humanely raised beef and pork is permanently conserved.

The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust (ACT) and The Trust for Public Land announced the completion of the conservation of the 150-acre Robie Farm, located on a beautiful stretch of the Connecticut River, just south of Piermont village. Pastoral fields dotted with dairy cows sweep down from NH Route 10 to the river.

“This place undoubtedly would have become a trophy home site, or sites, if not for conservation,” said ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown.


Eli Robie plays on the family farm. Photo c/o Mimi Adkins.

Farm owners Lee and Betty Sue Robie live and work on the land with their sons Freeman and Mark. Their grandchildren, Eli and Lisette, mark the seventh generation to grow up on the farm.

“We wanted to make the farm viable for the next generation,” said Betty Sue Robie. “We want it to be a working farm that is a productive source of food and fiber forever.”

With small dairy farms all over New England going under because of the pressure of low milk prices and high costs, the Robies several years ago decided to diversify their business and respond to the fast growing interest in local food. Instead of selling only milk, they started producing artisanal cheese, humanely raised beef, pork, and veal, and raw milk. Their products are carried in over 50 markets and restaurants as well as their own farm store. Their cheeses and meats are often featured at Molly’s and the Canoe Club in Hanover.


A classic CT River dairy farm.

“We were pleased to assist the Robie Family and the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust with the preservation of this farm. Our hope is that the Robie Farm can use the proceeds of the easement sale to retire debt, invest in their business and maintain a source of local foods in the Connecticut River valley” said Rodger Krussman, The Trust for Public Land’s New Hampshire State director.

The Robie Farm is situated in an area that is home to wildlife and dynamic ecosystems. Along the riverfront there are silver maple floodplain forests, an important ecosystem that accommodates flooding and stabilizes the riverbanks from erosion. Federally endangered dwarf wedge mussels live in the riverbed.


The riverbank offers ample habitat for local shorebirds and wildlife.

ACT was initially approached about the project by The Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit conservation organization with a mission of “conserving land for people.” The Trust for Public Land brings expertise in real estate, law, finance and fundraising, but does not hold land or conservation easements over the long term. The Robies needed a conservation partner like ACT to that shared their vision for their farm, understood the complexities of conserving a working farm, and was flexible in considering new uses like agri-tourism.

“It was love at first sight,” said Betty Sue recalling when she first met the ACT team. “ACT understood what we wanted to do and how we wanted to run our farm business.”

“Our work is about forming relationships with people, and honoring the long-term vision they have for their land,” said Brown. “Creating a conservation agreement takes time and attention to detail, flexibility and creativity.”

ACT now holds the permanent agreement, called a conservation easement, on the property. The easement stipulates that the conserved land will not be developed, but encourages its use for farming and forestry, and recreation. A canoe campsite may be established on the riverbank, for instance.

In an important new role for a New Hampshire land trust, ACT also brought farm business expertise to the Robies through its partnership with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund. ACT and the Loan Fund are working together with several North Country farms on ensuring that the farm businesses are thriving, as well as the farm land being conserved for the future. Business technical assistance includes financial management, debt consolidation, and marketing.

“Conserving farm land is a key tool in agricultural economics,” said Brown. “Farm owners can be paid for the development rights on their land. How they use that cash to strengthen their business is where the NH Community Loan Fund brings its expertise. Our two organization work together with the farmers to ensure that the business and the conservation interests are each served and support each other.”

The land conservation and farm business building collaboration between ACT, the Robies, and the Community Loan Fund is a potential model for other farms in the state, added Brown. The Russell Foundation and USDA Rural Development have supported ACT in this pioneering approach to farmland conservation.

The Trust for Public Land managed the project for the complex Robie endeavor and led the fund raising and real estate due diligence. The USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service assisted with agricultural planning. NRCS was also a major funder through its Agricultural Land Easement (ALE) program. NRCS may contribute up to 50 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement. Where NRCS determines that grasslands of special environmental significance will be protected, NRCS may contribute up to 75 percent of the fair market value of the agricultural land easement.

This project was also supported in part by funds from the sale of the Conservation License Plates (Moose Plate) through the NH State Conservation Committee grant program. Funding was also contributed by the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, NH Charitable Foundation, as well as other private individuals and foundations.

You can visit the Robie Farm store just south of Piermont village to sample their cheese, buy raw milk, cheese, eggs, meats, and bacon, and locally made jams and jellies, as well as Betty Sue’s fresh made bread.

To learn more about The Trust for Public Land and our work to conserve land for people, please visit


Beautiful Foliage in the Community Forest

Thank you to everyone who joined us on Saturday, Oct. 3rd to hike in the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest! Check out some of the pictures below of the stunning foliage in your Community Forest. Special thanks to our trail volunteers who made the new trails a reality. It was amazing hiking the brand new blue loop trail. Maps provided below.


The blue loop trail.


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The group leaving the parking area off of Trumpet Round Road in Sugar Hill.

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The view from the old log landing. Franconia range.

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Leaf peepers in the Community Forest!

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Walking over the bog bridges volunteers made over the summer.



Views from the top of the Community Forest.



3rd Annual Community Forest Potluck & Hike, Oct. 3

potluckAs the weather cools, it’s the perfect time to hear about the great progress we’ve made on our trail network in the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest. Join ACT for a festive potluck, and invite all of your friends!


Volunteers enjoying the views from an overlook they created.

This year we are hosting the potluck at the Landaff Town Hall. The potluck starts at 5:30 p.m on Saturday, October 3. Please bring a covered dish, serving utensil, and an ingredient card (to avoid any allergy mishaps).

Directions to potluck from Littleton:

In Lisbon turn left at Woodsville Guaranty Bank onto Central Ave. At fork stay to the left (Jockey Hill Rd.) Town Hall is three miles from Lisbon and is on the right.

A brief presentation will be given by ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown, about the new trail and our management plan for the future. A big thank you to our entire Stewardship Team for all of the incredible work they have done to make this a place for the entire community.

A stone path that was recently built by our trail work volunteers in the Community Forest.

Earlier in the day, we will be leading a hike in the Community Forest to unveil a new walking trail. Our volunteers have been hard at work creating a new trail, and this is a great opportunity to see their progress. This will be a moderate hike with some elevation gain. The group will decide if we want to do a longer hike or shorter hike, we have a number of options available.

Bring a brown bag lunch, water, and your camera to take pictures! Please wear sturdy boots, and comfortable hiking clothes.

We will meet in the Trumpet Round Road parking area at 11 a.m. Google maps link.

Please contact Outreach Coordinator Lianna Lee at, or call 603-823-7777 for more              information.


Build Trails on National Public Lands Day in Community Forest

toward Pearl Lake

EASTON – All across the country, people will be lending hands to help our public lands on Saturday, Sept. 26. You can help out right here at the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest, which was created with local support.

Join ACT on National Public Lands Day as we work toward completing our first trail on the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest.

A forest for all, the 840-acre Community Forest is full of wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities for the whole family. Our new trail network is intended for hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing. Existing trails serve snowmobiles.

Working on the trails is a great way to meet people involved with the outdoor community of the North Country. This summer, volunteers have made tremendous progress on the trails, and we hope that helping hands on National Public Lands Day will help with some finishing touches.

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Red flag marks where the new parking area is located.

We’ll meet in the new parking lot off of Trumpet Round Road in Sugar Hill at 9:30 a.m. and will finish around 2:30 p.m. Please wear sturdy boots, and long pants that can withstand brambles. Bring tools such as loppers, clippers, and hand saw, pack a bag lunch, and bring plenty of water. Children are welcome to attend with an adult.


Four-wheel drive vehicles will be helpful, as we could then drive some volunteers to another trail entrance.

To learn more about how you can volunteer in the Community Forest, please call ACT Outreach Coordinator Lianna Lee at (603) 823-7777 or e-mail her at



Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust Opposes Northern Pass in Public Hearings


ACT members, volunteers, and staff rally against the Northern Pass project.

Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust (ACT) board member and Secretary, Douglas Evelyn, spoke on Tuesday, September 8 during a public Northern Pass hearing in Lincoln, NH. Northern Pass is required to hold hearings in Grafton County to allow comments on its recently proposed route as part of its process of requesting a permit from New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee. 

Other hearings are taking place in Merrimack, Rockingham, Coos and Belknap counties. Below are the highlights of what he said on behalf of ACT.


SEC (Site Evaluation Committee) INFORMATIONAL HEARING

September 8, 2015, LINCOLN, NH

  • I am Douglas Evelyn, Secretary of the board of the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust — the chief land trust serving the White Mountain region in Grafton and Coos counties. We appreciate this opportunity to testify as part of the SEC process.
  • ACT has always opposed the proposed Eversource’s Northern Pass Transmission (NPT) project. The need for a power line from Canada through New Hampshire has never been justified. New Hampshire does not need Hydro Quebec’s energy and during the 5 year history of the project new and offsetting sources of clean energy for coastal New England have been developed and identified.
  • ACT argues that the project must be buried throughout, if it proceeds at all. No promised short term benefits can justify the permanent impact industrial-scaled, above-ground power lines to New Hampshire’s mountain, lake, and agricultural landscapes and scenery. These nationally recognized scenic resources have been revered and visited for two centuries and undergird New Hampshire’s tourist economy.
  • ACT views the latest Eversource proposal — to reduce the project’s scale and bury 60 miles of the power-line — as a small step in the right direction. But it leaves many New Hampshire areas and communities permanently scarred. The case justifying this damage throughout the state has not been made. Competing projects in adjacent states and Eversource’s own concessions demonstrate the potential for full burial.
  • ACT views this project as the greatest threat to the integrity of New Hampshire’s scenic landscapes since the corporate devastation of the forests in the late 19th century — leading to the Weeks Act and the creation of the White Mountain National Forest.
  • ACT urges Eversource — and New Hampshire’s leadership — to respect the nationally appreciated character and the economic and social benefits of NH’s natural landscapes throughout the state. Do No Harm! Bury the project in fullor abandon it altogether.

Creature Feature: Journey of the Monarchs


Monarch visiting asters in Sugar Hill.

Floating by on their wings of black and orange that resemble panels of stained glass, the monarch butterfly is a favorite sight as summer ends and fall begins. This year, it may be harder to catch a glimpse of these late season butterflies. Over the past decade, their population has declined rapidly due to habitat loss and other environmental factors.

When monarchs arrive, they flock to milkweed plants to sip nectar and lay their eggs. The generation that emerges in NH will face an arduous 3,000-mile journey that takes them from our local fields into the mountains of Mexico.

Monarchs love milkweed, and the reason why is simple: poison. The milky sap found in milkweed leaves is toxic enough to make most animals sick, while monarchs possess a surprising immunity. Because of this a monarch will only deposit their eggs on milkweed leaves. A few days later the very hungry, green-yellow-and-black-striped caterpillar emerges and begins chomping down on the poisonous leaves. Monarchs remain toxic when they emerge as butterflies, and other animals know they will have an upset stomach if they eat one.


A monarch caterpillar munching on a milkweed leaf.

The life stages of a monarch are fascinating. On the way to becoming a winged-creature, the caterpillar molts repeatedly before it spins itself a cocoon and undergoes a stunning 10-14 day metamorphosis. Attached to the underside of a plant, the jade green, and gold spotted chrysalis houses the ‘melted’ pupa. The ‘melting’ phenomenon is exclusive to insects, where enzymes break down the body inside a chrysalis, and embryonic-like cells build the butterfly from scratch. The monarch emerges slightly damp, and allows its wings to dry before flying away.


The monarch finally emerges from the chrysalis.

As you catch sight of a monarch and track its winding progress, realize that you are witnessing something that took four to five generations to achieve. Traveling from central Mexico to the southern U.S., and then up the East Coast to New Hampshire, each successive generation completes part of the yearly, multi-generational loop. The monarchs born in NH will travel south to Mexico. Once they arrive in Mexico millions will cluster together and overwinter on the oyamel fir species that grow in an isolated mountain range. Only a fraction of the original oyamel fir forest remains, and it is one of the most endangered ecosystems in Mexico.

Monarchs overwintering on oyamel fir trees in Mexico.

Monarchs overwintering on oyamel fir trees in Mexico.

Habitat loss in both the United States and Mexico contributes greatly to dwindling monarch populations. The loss of open fields to development, and the steady disappearance of milkweed leave monarchs with limited breeding grounds. Monarchs overwinter in cool, high altitudes on oyamel firs because it provides them with a safe place to enter diapause – a state of lowered energy, but not true hibernation – that allows them to conserve energy. The illegal deforestation of oyamel firs has also contributed to the rapid decline of monarch populations.


Getting Involved

As landowners, we can help the monarch by encouraging milkweed and other species that flower in late summer. In fact, research from Antioch New England shows that mowing milkweed during the beginning and end of July promotes regrowth, and provides more habitat for monarchs to lay eggs and hatch throughout September and October.

Here at ACT, we are managing our Whipple Field Conservation Area next to Polly’s Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill for plant species beneficial to monarchs and other pollinators.

Planting a butterfly garden full of native wildflowers that provide nectar for pollinators, and gives you the perfect excuse to step outside and see who is arriving.

Taking it a step further, you can track the butterflies and help conservation efforts through Monarch Watch.



Keep Growing Pie Contest Winners!

Some of the delicious pies that were submitted!

Some of the delicious pies that were submitted!

The announcement of the winning pies was the most anticipated part of the night. Taking first prize bragging rights was a classic apple pie baked by Bill Oliver.

Elizabeth Chow's second place blueberry-rhubarb pie.

Elizabeth Chow’s second place blueberry-rhubarb pie.

In second place was Elizabeth Chow with a delicious blueberry pie.Marie Snyder’s cherry pie took third place. Pies were judged by ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown and ACT board members. Special thanks to everyone who brought a pie to the potluck – they were all delicious!

Finally, after much impatient waiting people lined up to buy pie for a dollar per slice. All proceeds went to the Franconia Community Church’s food pantry, and sixty dollars in total was donated.

Families enjoyed listening to local musician, Ross Boyd of Tiny Village Music in Bethlehem who sang and played the guitar and ukulele. Singer-songwriter Nick Jones also performed. Kids got messy making prints with real vegetables and fruits, playing Frisbee golf, and eating pie.

Prospect Farm was in attendance with a crockpot of their local chicken. Their meat is sold at the Co-op and at their farm in Lisbon.

We would like to thank our co-sponsors for helping us broadcast this event to the greater community. The Co-op, generously donated all of the plates, cups, napkins, and utensils for this event, and helped promote it throughout the community. Lafayette Recreation assisted with chairs, tables, and provided fun outdoor games.

Finally, a warm thank you to the ACT board members and volunteers who through their tireless dedication make these events a pleasure to attend.


Share the Bounty

An article written by ACT’s Executive Director Rebecca Brown that appeared in the Littleton Courier.


Over the last several weeks, I’ve delivered chard and lettuces from my garden to the Littleton Food Co-op. In the next several, I’ll take beets, beans, and blueberries.

I’m not a commercial grower and the Co-op certainly doesn’t need my produce. But a lot of people in the North Country do.


It’s the land of plenty right now for gardeners, so it’s a great time to share our backyard bounty with those who need fresh vegetables and fruit. Thanks to the Co-op, it’s easier than ever to do that. All you have to do is drop off your washed, bagged garden produce at the service desk any day except Sundays. The Co-op provides the produce to the local food pantries.

This simple effort addresses two big issues: poverty, and food waste.

Rural poverty is not what you see in the travel brochures and promotions for New Hampshire or the White Mountains. The fact of poverty is often a hidden aspect of life here, especially as our state scores so high nationally in measures of quality of life and health. But hundreds of local people rely on the emergency food system – the food pantries and other organizations that collect and offer food – for part of their weekly sustenance.

According to the Carsey Institute at UNH, as many as 20 percent of Coös County households experience a shortage of food: bare cupboards, empty refrigerators, and empty bellies. While New Hampshire overall has lower rates of hunger than the national average, when we break the data down by county it is clear that access to good healthy food is not equitable. Hunger rates in parts of the North Country are in line with the highest national rates.

In addition, to low income, another big challenge for many people is getting to places that sell fresh, nutritious local food. Parts of Grafton and Coös counties are considered “food deserts” – places without a nearby grocery store or other produce market, where people more often purchase from convenience stores that typically do not offer fresh food.

Food waste is another issue that we might not be aware of, yet are probably complicit in. The amount of food that is thrown away – by consumers, producers, retailers, restaurants, processors, and so on – is staggering. In the U.S., it’s estimated that retailers alone throw out 43 billion pounds of food a year. The figure the USDA uses to describe household food waste is one third: one third of all the food Americans buy is thrown away.

Bringing that home, I’ve been troubled by what I grow and can’t consume, store, or give away to friends and neighbors. I don’t mind the deer coming in December to eat my giant beets left in the ground, but I would rather have harvested those beets and gotten them to someone who could use

them. My hunch was that there are plenty of people like me, with backyard gardens and extra produce who would like an easy way to get the goods those who need them.

That’s where the Co-op stepped in this year, agreeing to try a backyard gleaning program where they’d make it as easy as possible for busy people to bring in their garden surplus. They even offered the incentive of discounted seeds this spring if you signed up to participate.

Anyone can participate, whether you signed up this spring or not. Around the country, backyard gleaning has been the most difficult type of gleaning program to make successful, for many areas lack a central place with storage, labor, regular hours, and relationships with the food pantries, as well as the mission, to make it happen. That’s why the Co-op is a perfect partner in this effort. All they need now is more people to join in.

This Thursday, take a break from weeding or harvesting and come to the Nourish Food Film Festival at the Colonial in Bethlehem. Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust, through our Keep Growing initiative to build a strong local food system in the North Country, is hosting this entertaining, informative, and provocative series of short films. It’s free – just bring fresh produce for the food pantries. The films start at 7:30 p.m.

And mark Aug. 29 on your calendar for a community potluck and harvest supper. At the Dow Field in Franconia, there will be games, music, and a pie contest. Bring your dish to share, a picnic blanket and chairs. It will be a great way to celebrate the season!



Keep Growing Pie Baking Contest

rsz_carouselHomemade pies are the crown jewels of summertime baking, and there’s no better way to celebrate the end of summer than with a delicious pie-baking contest. Time to fire up your oven, pick a filling, and engage in some friendly competition.

ACT is hosting this contest as part of their greater Community Harvest Potluck activities. The potluck will be held on Saturday, August 29 beginning at 5 p.m. on the Dow Field in Franconia. Best of all, this contest is free to enter. You may download this registration form and bring it to the potluck, or register on the 29th.

Categories are as follows: kids 17 and under, adults 18 and older, and culinary students or professional bakers. As always the appearance, flavor, and creativity of your pie are important.

Bring your pie to the Dow Field by 5:30 p.m., where you can drop it off at the pie table under the tent.


1.) No canned fillings may be used

2.) Pies must be baked by individual submitting them, and to avoid allergy mishaps please include a full ingredient list with your pie.

3.) Pies must be either sweet or savory and must not require refrigeration.

4.) Pies must be baked in a disposable pie tin or plate.

5.) Please do not write your name on the pie tin. Your pie will be registered a number at registration to allow for anonymity.


Each pie will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Overall appearance: crust and filling color, creative detailing, even distribution of filling, etc.
  • Overall flavor: fresh taste, texture, doneness, consistency, etc.
  • Originality: creativity in appearance and flavor

Judges for this contest will be ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown and a few board members from the community. The winners will be announced immediately following the closing of the judging. Yearlong bragging rights will belong to the respective category winners, as well as gift certificates to local North Country stores.

Potluck attendees will have the opportunity to sample these pies for one dollar a slice. Proceeds from the pie contest will be donated to our local food pantries.

This event is sponsored by ACT through their Keep Growing initiative, the Littleton Food Cooperative, and the Franconia Recreation Department.

Keep Growing is a project of ACT to revitalize our region’s agrarian economic and grow a strong local food movement. ACT conserves farm and forestland for the benefit of the North Country.

For more information, contact Lianna Lee at the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust, 603-823-7777, e-mail


Community Harvest Potluck


Celebrate the end of summer at the Community Harvest Potluck on the Dow Field on Saturday, Aug. 29. There will be plenty of family-friendly activities and great food. Relax with friends and neighbors and share the bounty of our gardens.

The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust (ACT), the Littleton Food Co-op, and Lafayette Recreation are hosting the celebration. Starting at 5 p.m. there will be live music, a pie baking contest, games for the kids, and more. Bring your favorite covered dish, a picnic blanket, invite your friends, and enjoy delicious food by the Gale River.

Kids can join in potato sack races, and younger children can get creative making prints with real vegetables and fruits.

Prospect Farm will be in attendance with samples of their delicious grass-fed pork, and other local farms are invited to participate.

Please write up a list of ingredients in your dish, to prevent any food allergy mishaps. Appetizers, salads, main courses, and desserts are welcome, and BYOB.

The pie contest will feature local creations, and everyone can sample them for a small cost per slice. Proceeds will go to our local food pantries. Attention bakers: pie contest guidelines will be published on this website next week.