115 ACRES conserved IN THE TOWN OF WHITE CREEK
A Farm United and Preserved
In October, Sophia Healy realized a decades-long dream of seeing her beloved White Creek farm permanently protected.
Sophia Healy, an artist, novelist and native Vermonter, first visited White Creek in the early 1960s. Right away, she fell in love with the town and its people and knew it was a place where she wanted to put down roots. "I went back to North Bennington and told my friends I found this town and I want to live there," she says.
She started renting a 1788 farmhouse from a local farmer for $50 a month. You reached it by travelling over a charming bridge that crossed Little White Creek, the beautiful trout stream. At the time, only one room of the dilapidated house was habitable, but that didn't diminish her fondness for the place.
"When I moved here in '61, it was fantastic," Sophia recalls, sitting in the kitchen of that same farmhouse today, which she has since restored. "I just loved this place so much. I was so happy here. I love farming and the people here, and the incredible environment—it's so beautiful."
In 1964, Sophia bought the farmhouse—known originally as the "Lake House" because the Lake family had operated a farm there for several generations—and two-and-a-half acres to go with it. But she yearned to unite the farmhouse with the surrounding acres that had originally been part of Lake Farm as well.
In 1992 she got her wish and was able to mortgage her house to buy the surrounding land. During the school year she taught art at Bennington College, but in the summer she farmed with a neighboring farmer, raising dairy cows, pigs and trotting horses. Farming was in her blood. "When I grew up in Vermont, I worked and played on a dairy farm after school," she says.
This October, Sophia realized another dream: the protection of just over 114 acres of her farm's land—which includes 36 acres of upland woodlands, 2,400 feet of frontage along Little White Creek and productive fields rented to a local dairy farmer.
She donated the easement on the property to ASA, with costs for the transaction covered by the New York State Conservation Partnership Program and ASA. The property is adjacent to Landview Farms, one of the largest dairy operations in the county, which was awarded a state farmland protection grant in October 2014.
As Sophia shows a visitor around her beautiful land and farmstead, which includes a smokehouse, pig shed, horse barn and corn crib—as well as an artist studio where she makes handmade paper from cotton and linen rags—it is clear how thrilled she is that this farm will forever be protected.
"I never wanted to see this property developed," she says. "I really love this place."