The 20-acre forested Bradway parcel in Eastford abuts the land trust’s 22.5-acre McFarlane preserve on Abington Road and a portion of the 13,000-acre Natchaug State Forest.
The donor, who grew up in Putnam and retired to Groton, was happy to see his family land protected. “I’m glad that it will stay natural,” he explained. “I know the beavers love it. My grandfather acquired it over 100 years ago. He ran the Bradway and Delano store on School Street in Putnam, and owned plots of land all over the area, maybe because his customers couldn’t pay their bills. He passed it on to my father, who passed it on to me.
“The land trust contacted me because the land abuts the McFarlane preserve, and I thought ‘why not donate it.’ I’ve had no use for it in my lifetime. Working with the land trust was very easy—I just went to their lawyer’s office and signed a couple of papers.”
The property is important because it helps preserve part of a large intact forest interior. Large forest interiors are important for many bird species because they support successful nesting. Birds like Ovenbirds, Black-throated Green Warblers, Wood Thrush, and Red-Eyed Vireos are a few examples of species that will benefit from this protected land.
The following is excerpted from an article by Chris Cadiz in the Putnam Traveler in 2012:
Jo-Ann MacFarlane of Abington Road in Eastford donated 25 acres to create the new Robert McFarlane, Jr. Preserve. MacFarlane is the third generation to own this former farm, purchased by her Scottish grandfather in the 1930s. “I spent most of my life on this land. I’ve always lived within walking distance of it. It was always a farm and I grew up with the chickens and cows. Over the years you develop a love and respect for the land and how hard they worked for it,” says MacFarlane. “They didn’t have the machinery like they do now. I remember my father cutting hay with a scythe,” she says. “I am doing it for my dad,” she says, barely holding back tears. “He had a deep love for this land and he passed that on to my and my brother.”
“We have to preserve this land and preserve a habitat for animals,” MacFarlane says fiercely. “My father loved all animals. I grew up loving animals—he passed that on to me. I wanted to make sure to preserve this land for generations to come and for the animals.”
Working with the land trust, MacFarlane permanently protected a twenty-five acre parcel adjacent to Natchaug Forest. She chose to name the preserve in honor of her father. A plaque will be mounted on a piece of native stone in a field alongside Abington Road for all to see. The land will continue to be farmed for corn and hay to maintain some open habitat for birds and other animals.
MacFarlane learned about the Wyndham Land Trust through a friend who knew longtime president, Dick Booth, under whose nearly 20-year leadership WLT’s property grew greatly. “My girlfriend invited me to one of the meetings. I did some research and found Joshua’s Land Trust and Wyndham Land Trust. I wanted to donate locally so I went with Wyndham Land Trust.”
For MacFarlane, the decision to donate the land and the process was easy. She acknowledges the added benefits of tax credits for the donation and lifetime tenancy, which means she can legally walk on the land, take firewood from it, etc. “People should know about the Wyndham Land Trust. A lot of people don’t want to give up their land, but they should know their options. I think they have a good mission to preserve the land. You can’t let people go and destroy everything. I work in South Windsor and I’ve seen how they’ve taken the strawberry fields and built houses, condos and mini malls everywhere. There’s no place for people to go enjoy the outdoors.”