The Pease Family Donates 58-Acres to the GLT
When Marty and Sarah Pease were little girls, they had the luxury of living on a piece of property that was so varied in its landscape that they learned how to downhill ski not at a ski resort, but on a steep, 50-foot long hill in the woods behind their house. They learned to ice skate not at a rink, but on their very own pond. Family walks and picnics were not at a public park, but in their own 58-acre nature preserve, where old dirt roads made excellent walking trails. And cozy evening fires were fueled not by propane, but by wood harvested from their backyard.
Bear, deer, fox, turkeys, bobcats, and coyotes all frequented their property. Marty and Sarah’s mother, a chemistry teacher by trade but a biologist at heart, would take the girls out to the pond to study the frogs, newts, dragonflies, fish, water skeeters, and water plants. Their father kept the old roads cleared of growth and debris; built a big, solid bridge across the brook behind their house (solid enough to support his tractor and give them easy access to all that lay beyond, including enough firewood to fuel daily fires in the winter and sometimes even in the summer); and taught the girls about the old foundations and stone walls they found in the woods. Once, he took them fishing in the brook, using filed paperclips for hooks, string for line, and sticks for rods (no, they didn’t catch any fish, but the girls had so much fun trying that they remember it to this day).
In the process, Marty and Sarah learned to love the land just as their parents did.
Marty and Sarah’s parents, Bill and Jane Ann Pease, were very well known in Granby. When they moved here, in 1953, they fell in love with an old house (built in 1865) on Higley Road, high up on the hill, far out from the center of town. Over the next 60 years, they built a full and lengthy life here. Bill practiced law in Simsbury for 50 years; and served as the Town of Simsbury’s Counsel for many of those years. He served on the Zoning Board of Appeals for the Town of Granby and was an active member and volunteer at the Salmon Brook Historical Society. Jane Ann taught Chemistry at Granby Memorial High School for 25 years, served on the Republican Town Committee, served as the Voter Registrar; and she too volunteered at the Salmon Brook Historical Society.
When they weren’t working, Bill and Jane Ann loved to play; and they loved to be outside. They were founding and lifelong members of the Granby Tennis Club, lifelong active members of the Hampstead Hill (Swim) Club; and they served on Ski Sundown’s ski patrol for 40 years. Many days, Jane Ann rode her bike to and from Granby Memorial High School or walked to and from the West Granby Post Office.
And in 1972, when a group of Granby citizens came together to protect Granby’s beautiful places, Bill and Jane Ann eagerly joined the cause, becoming charter members of the Granby Land Trust. Perhaps even more importantly, Bill served as the Land Trust’s very first attorney. As such, he helped the GLT write its bylaws and become incorporated, so that the GLT could begin to conserve land in Granby.
The land Bill and Jane Ann loved most, of course, was their own. When they were home, at that old house high on the hill, they tended to the abundant vegetable gardens, flower gardens, and fruit trees on the property, as well as their considerable lawn; they maintained the trails in the woods; they harvested firewood from their land. And then, come evening, they enjoyed a cocktail, either on their rooftop porch, which had a spectacular view of their property and of the Farmington Valley beyond, or, in winter, in front of a welcoming fire.
“They truly loved the land and living here,” Marty says of her parents. “Each of them loved it here until the day they died.”
In later years, when Sarah was grown and had children of her own, visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s house were filled, of course, with time outdoors. Once, when her boys were little (ages 3 and 5), Bill took them for a walk on the property. One of the boys needed to relieve himself, so Bill taught him how to do so outside. “What he failed to tell them was that they should only do this in the woods,” says Sarah. “So I return to Seattle. I am in the mall parking lot with the two boys and they both need to go to the bathroom. Before I know what’s happening, they do what Grandpa taught them, and I couldn’t stop them.” It was just one of many out-of-doors lessons that Bill taught in his lifetime – and one that really made an impression on his pupils.
Before Jane Ann passed away, in June of 2013, she and Bill had expressed their wish to preserve a large parcel of their land – nearly 58 acres – by donating it to the Granby Land Trust. “The wheels were in motion,” says Marty. “So after Mom passed away, Dad, Sarah and I kept them in motion, and after Dad passed away (just 5 months after Jane Ann), we made the gift to the Land Trust, as they wished.”
“Even as a child I loved the land,” says Marty. “And that land has not been altered since those days. It’s good to know this property will be as it always has been in my lifetime. That makes me feel good.”
The Pease Family Preserve is located within an expansive matrix of protected open space in West Granby which includes about 350 acres of Land Trust property, a number of GLT conservation easements, and Town of Granby open space. The property directly abuts the 118-acre Schupp Property, which is protected by a GLT conservation easement. The expanse of forest between Higley Road to the south and Mountain Road to the north was identified as a “Secondary Conservation Area” in the Farmington Valley Biodiversity Project. The Preserve has high conservation value due to its pristine condition and proximity to other preserved open space. The large un-fragmented forest tract supports numerous sensitive bird species and a suite of other wildlife. The wooded wetlands provide a variety of other important ecological functions and a wooded buffer along a Class A stream.
The Granby Land Trust is deeply grateful to the Pease Family for their generosity and for their commitment to Granby and to the land they love. By making this gift, they have preserved this pristine piece of land forever, protecting its wildlife habitats and important ecological functions, and ensuring that others may forever enjoy the land as they once did.