Tree Farmers Vermont

Strafford’s Tree Man Reflects on ‘Life’s Work’ in Taylor Valley Forest: Hemenway Recognized As ‘Tree Farmer Of The Year’

By Kate Spencer, The Herald of Randolph, 8/29/13

(Photo: Herald / Tim Calabro)

Ever since he bought his first 1000 acres in Taylor Valley in 1950 (at just $4 an acre), John Hemenway of Strafford has been the steady backbone of the Taylor Valley Tree farm, an expansive swatch of undeveloped forest that spans Strafford, Chelsea, Tunbridge, and Vershire.

Under Hemenway’s leadership, loggers and foresters transformed the valley from former farmland, which was growing up into brush, to one of the most heavily wooded areas in Orange County.

Today, at age 89, Hemenway owns 2400 acres that support a successful timber operation, exporting hardwood around the world. The land also serves as a wildlife habitat, an outdoor classroom, and a recreation spot for everyone from horseback riders to hunters to students at the nearby Mountain School in Vershire.

Tree Farmers Vermont

Tree Farmers Honored at 2012 VWA Annual Meeting

Three 25-year Tree Farmers (left to right, John Meyer, Alden Blodgett, & Bob Pulaski ) were presented with silver signs at the 2012 Annual Meeting.
Tree Farmers Vermont

Finding Their Way: Mike and Vivien Fritz chart a course for sustainability and fun on their Vermont Tree Farm

by Madeline Bodin.

Reprinted with permission from the winter 2012 issue of Tree Farmer magazine. Copyright 2012 American Forest Foundation, Photos by Rob Amberg.

Mike Fritz slides out of his 4×4 utility task vehicle (UTV), grabs a long pry-bar from the cargo area, and wedges it under a rock in the middle of a cross-country ski trail, part of 20 miles of trails that weave through the 530 acres of land he owns with his wife, Vivien, in Marshfield, Vermont. About 445 of the acres are forested.

“When you see a rock like this with a white mark, that means I hit it with my mower,”


Autumn on the Fritzes’ Beaver Brook Tree Farm means preparing for cross-country ski season and sees Mike mowing each of those 20 miles of trails twice, then returning on a UTV loaded with hoes, shovels, and chain saws to clear culverts and remove rocks and trees to create a smooth surface for winter gliding.

This is the life the Fritzes imagined as software engineers living in Boston, before they bought their property in Vermont 14 years ago, and before the land itself revealed new possibilities to them.