You Can Never Make More Land

Kenburn Orchards Farm is a 151-acre property in Shelburne, Massachusetts, that has been in the same family for nearly 100 years. Thanks to Susan and Larry Flaccus, the current owners of the farm, it has now been conserved. Susan and Larry generously sold a conservation restriction on their land for a price lower than the appraised value.

The conservation of this property was made possible by a grant from an anonymous foundation, a grant which also helped support FLT's recent acquisition of the former Edge Hill Golf Course, now known as the Edge Hill Conservation Area.

“My father, loved this land more than life itself really. I'm the only child and so I was to inherit the land, and the only thing he asked of me was that I not let it be developed” says Susan, “It was so important to my father and to Larry, who is the chair of the Open Space Committee in Shelburne. And really important to me because my soul is here.”

Kenburn Orchards is a historic and scenic treasure in the region. The farm was purchased by Susan’s grandfather in 1924 as a dairy farm, and later became an orchard.

“That was the time that the older varieties of apples were in vogue” explains Susan “the Macintosh and Delicious. My grandfather was considered quite avante- garde when he planted Golden Delicious and a few Cortlands.”

Today, the farm produces blueberries and Christmas trees, and hosts a popular u-pick operation. The farm also boasts 14 acres of prime farmland soils and 100 acres of prime forest soils, with Allen Brook, a cold-water fishery, running through the property. There is also a stunning view of the rolling hills and fields along the Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway. The importance of this property to the community of Shelburne was a motivating factor in the decision to conserve it.

“If you're coming up into Shelburne, this is really the first open piece of land on the Mohawk trail up here” says Larry “And so we felt also that it's important to the character of Shelburne to conserve this land.”

The Flaccus family has always cared deeply about the land and its conservation. In a remarkable act of generosity and gratitude, the Flaccus’s have created an endowment fund for the Franklin Land Trust at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts to support due diligence on conservation projects.

“We realized that there's really a lot of additional expenses involved in conservation, it's a lot more than just giving the land, there are legal expenses, appraisals and surveys and really, many thousands of dollars’ worth of expenses to conserve a piece of property. So, we thought if we could make a fund that would help other landowners do that it would be a benefit to conserving land in Franklin County” says Larry, adding “Conservation is so important because you can always make more money, and you can always build more, but you can never make more land. When it’s gone, it’s gone.”
The conservation of the Kenburn Orchards Farm was completed in March of this year. Franklin Land Trust is so grateful to Susan and Larry Flaccus for conserving their homestead and contributing, through their fund, to the future conservation of land in Franklin County.

If you would like to consider an endowment contribution to the “Franklin Land Trust Fund for Land Conservation” at the Community Foundation, please contact Mary Lynn Sabourin, Executive Director at 413-625-9151 or mlsabourin@franklinlandtrust.org.