High Reach Farm in Danville has been in the Parker family since 1953. This is a little more than half a lifetime in human terms, and not even close to the length of time needed to represent the generation of a forest. But in this relatively brief time, the owners of this property — particularly the present owners, Steve Parker and Susanne Terry — have demonstrated how living sustainably off the land is possible even on a small Vermont hill farm. They have used the best farming and forestry techniques to provide income, a family home, and peace of mind.

Until the mid-1960s, the Parker family operated High Reach Farm as a small diversified dairy farm. Living on the property only during the summer in the first few years, family members grew crops, milked cows, and, in their spare time, repaired the land by planting 600,000 trees. Beginning in the late ’60s, the sale of Christmas trees began paying the property taxes and covering other farm expenses.

Steve and Susanne moved to the farm as permanent residents in 1976. Four years later, the farm had become a full-time business, providing products and income to support the couple. Steve expanded and improved the Christmas tree operation, introducing modern forest management principles.

Steve and Susanne assumed ownership of the farm in 1986 and enrolled the land into the current use program, which provides for appraisals and taxes to be based on a property’s long-term use rather than its fair market value. Entry into the program assured that the land, at least for the near future, would remain in forests or farmland.

High Reach Farm, as its name implies, aims even higher. Steve started holding stewardship workshops in 1991 so other landowners could learn techniques for making forest management and diversified farming a way of life. With help from many professionals, including county forester Steve Slayton, the farm has become a showcase for visitors interested in multiple-use management and land stewardship principles. In 1994, the farm began evolving into a center for the study of “land and human ecology.” When complete, the farmhouse, barn, and surrounding landscape will be available to groups interested in ecological farming, farm and forest apprenticeships, and the study of human-land relationships.

This past year marked another milestone for High Reach Farm. The Vermont Woodlands Association honored Steve and Susanne as the 1998 Vermont Tree Farmers of the Year for their exemplary management of High Reach Farm.

High Reach Farm is a place of productive beauty. Designed and planned to be a welcome habitat for wildlife and wild and cultivated plants, it is home for two people who want to live in harmony with their land and neighbors. Because of Steve and Susanne, it will be a special place for generations to come.

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