The Brewster Uplands Story

History

Artists Alden (1913-2001) and Mary (1906-1978) Bryan moved to Brewster Uplands in 1939. The property sustained two dairy farms that had already been in use for over a hundred years, as well as an 18th century one-room schoolhouse that exists to this day.

1700s schoolhouse in a field, chipping white paint, red food and boarded up windows

The land has long been admired for its natural beauty. The scenic Brewster River, site of the 1963 Disney movie Those Calloways, defines its western border. Further east, its hardwood forests open up to incredible views of Mt. Mansfield and the northern Green Mountains.

aerial view of the brewster uplands property in summer, west farm in the foreground, forest and mountains in the distance

Over the years, the Bryans and their family developed a trail system so that others could experience the land they held dear. In 2006, the family generously donated the Brewster Uplands Conservation Trust property to VLT for all to enjoy.

sign for alden bryan trail with covered bridge in background, also vermont land trust sign

Becoming a Community Farm

The Vermont Land Trust maintains its trails for year-round public recreation. Farmer Angus Baldwin manages the property’s West Farm, now an nonprofit organic vegetable farm that hosts educational events and supplies co-ops, schools, and hospitals. During the coronavirus pandemic, the farm acted as a local hub for the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program.

man in mask hauling large bag of carrots for food relief in a farm building

VLT leases the property’s Robtoy Farm to Green Mountain Technology & Career Center, where teacher Sam Rowley manages a beef cattle herd and oversees the school’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program.

man walking along row of corn on west farm vermont

Decades of stewardship by the Bryan family, and more recently, VLT and its partners, have protected Brewster Uplands as a vital community resource. Whether traversing the land, learning from it, or savoring the food it produces, people are an integral part of Brewster Uplands’ present and future.

Still an inspiration for artists

In 2016, Brewster Uplands hosted Vermont artist Bonnie Acker as part of VLT’s land-and-art partnership with Shelburne Museum called Eyes on the Land. Spend time with Bonnie in the video and learn more about the Brewster Uplands story.

(photos by Caleb Kenna; video by Jay Stearns)