Carole and Murray Wigsten, Wigsten Farm, Weare, NH

“Thank you, Russell Foundation: for yesterdays, today, and all the tomorrows.

Our old time 1770 farm on Paige Hill Road, Weare, NH, has often been called a Piscataquog River treasure, with its 20-acre hayfield and 70 odd acres of northern mixed deciduous forest. By the year 2005 however, homes were being built all around us and the farm was a prime target for intensive development.

At the time, we knew nothing of conservation easements, or of options to protect land. We didn’t even know the Russell Foundation existed! We called Gordon and Barbara Russell for advice and so started a chain of events, which led (thanks to the Foundation’s guidance and expertise) to a conservation easement, which protects the entire farm forever.

This lovely homestead will now be farmland for all time, permanently preserved as a small but vital ecological oasis. In no way could we have done so but for the dedication and special commitment of the Russell Foundation.”

– Carole and Murray Wigsten, Weare, New Hampshire

Sally and Tom Wilkins, Wilkins Family Forest, Amherst and Mont Vernon, NH

“It’s about legacy. It’s about habitat and wildlife and open space. And it’s about keeping land open for passive recreation so we can give people a chance to experience the woods.”

– Sally Wilkins

“I don’t believe in selling it. I want it to stay open.”

– Tom Wilkins


“Working with the Russell Foundation and Ian McSweeney made the purchase of our new farm possible. Without the guidance and organization that Ian brought to the process, the transition of this farm to a local farmer would have been difficult to implement. I credit them with preserving this beautiful property for agriculture, wildlife and recreation far into the future. I have worked with Ian and the Russell Foundation on numerous projects relating to local agriculture and conservation and I look forward to continuing this relationship.”

– John Sandri, local farmer/ entrepreneur and new landowner of conserved farm

Lincoln Geiger, Temple-Wilton Community Farm, Wilton, NH

“Thank you earth so soft and strong
Thank you meadows filled with song
Thank you mountain forest and stream
In your wilderness our hearts be redeemed

Our community and our farm are grateful for the support and partnership of the Russell Foundation and Ian McSweeney.”

– Lincoln Geiger

“We must not only hold our lands in conservation deeds
We must also hold the greater wisdom to feed
From mists of earth of life at birth
A wisdom flows all knowing worth
It lifts the sand and stone into earth
So fertile and free so all may be

Our lands hold the promise for wilderness and for culture
We must hold these gifts in perpetuity to use them
Each day we stand on the land that feeds not only the people
But the world as a whole

From this place farmers will be able to bring forth food for many, many generations of people to come. It will be land that belongs to those who farm it, those who come to get their food, those who come to walk or visit and for the creatures wild and tame that share it with us. To see and know the food and forage as it grows, brings us the most fundamental sense of joy, wonder and security. We must preserve farm land and farmers as well as wilderness to feed both belly and sole.

I thank the Russell Farm and Forest Conservation Foundation for their understanding that farm land, farmers, and wilderness are all in need of attention. I am grateful to Ian McSweeney’s role in this wonderful healing work.”

– Lincoln Geiger, founder and farmer

Jane Presby, Diamond Hill Farm, Concord NH

“Dimond Hill Farm’s mission is to serve the land and community with transparency, integrity, reverence, and gratitude. This mission guides all aspects of the farm.

I am a seventh generation farmer. I practice conscience farming methods to provide fresh quality vegetables for our farm stand. This 150 acre farm provides a place for people to experience: walking on the trails, shopping in the 180 year old barn for fresh produce, walking the labyrinth, picking raspberries and blueberries, visiting the llamas, walking in the lovely flower gardens, taking in the magnificent view, and enjoying special events.

This Peoples Farm is able to live on through an integrated effort of Equity Trust, Five Rivers Conservation Trust, NH Preservation Alliance, Natural Resources Conservation Services Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, the Russell Farm and Forest Conservation Foundation, the City of Concord and the people that make up the farm community.”

– Jane Presby, seventh generation farmer

Land Trusts

Paul Doscher, Senior Advisor, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Concord, NH

“Land conservation in New Hampshire has always been a private/public partnership. State and local public funds are always modest compared to the need, and land trusts have always needed to have private funding partners to craft important successful land protection projects. The proof of this model lies in the enormous success of land conservation in the past three decades, resulting in more than 30 percent of the state now being protected for wildlife, forestry, agriculture, outdoor recreation, ecological and other important values. From the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters to the Temple/Wilton Community Farm, these partnerships have been the foundation of a vibrant conservation community.

The Russell Foundation has been a key partner in many of these efforts. Here in southern New Hampshire, where development pressures have put vast areas of unfragmented forests and our modest remaining prime agricultural lands at risk, the Foundation has provided key contributions to land conservation that benefits our communities and our environment.

In my town, Weare, the Foundation has worked with landowners to educate them about conservation options, engaged community organizations and leaders in dialogue to design important projects, and provided critical match funding to leverage local public and private dollars.

While grant writing and reporting to public agencies is necessarily complex, detailed and time consuming, the Russell Foundation has created an efficient and effective process that recognizes every hour spent by a land trust or conservation commission on complex grant procedures is an hour not spent out on the ground protecting land. The Foundation has created a model of effective and efficient grant applications and reporting that both responds quickly to inquiries and ensures granted funds are used wisely.

If I had one wish for the future of land conservation in New Hampshire it would be to replicate the Russell Foundation many times over.”

– Paul Doscher

Diamond Hill Farm, Concord, NH

“Dimond Hill Farm is a model of how a community can come together to preserve its historic agricultural landscape, local food production, and farm economy. Since 1827, six generations of the Presby family farmed this property before a generational transfer and the need to divide the estate equitably put the farm at risk. The ultimate solution was complicated but elegant: Sale of conservation easements to Five Rivers Conservation Trust and historic preservation easements to NH Preservation Alliance permanently protected the property while providing resources for the heirs to share. Farm title passed to Equity Trust, a non-profit land trust charged with ensuring active farming continues on the land, and Jane Presby was granted the right to run her farm business for life.”

– Jim Oldham, Equity Trust

Temple-Wilton Community Farm, Wilton, NH

“How is it as a culture we have forgotten how important farmers and agriculture are for stewarding both the earth and our capacity to survive on it? No one escapes the need for food. It is a driving life force and the quality and intention with which it is grown, prepared and consumed is a vital barometer of the condition of our culture. So, land is fundamental, the fertility of the soil is generational, and its regeneration is about our spirit as human beings. For farmers, access to land and a community of support are essential to a thriving regional economy and the evolution of culture. Agricultural land trusts hold land in perpetuity and as much as possible in the commons are critical to our future. And further, those land trusts that ask the land to be stewarded as we would treat our own bodies – biodynamically, organically, sustainably – are upholding the ancestral and future work of agriculture itself.”

– John Bloom, RSF Social Finance, Director of Organizational Culture, General Secretary of Anthroposophical Society in America, and Yggdrassil Land Foundation Board Vice-President

Non-Profit Organizations

Phil and Virginia Brooks, Brooks Farm, Lyndeborough, NH

“Question: How does a small, non-profit school compete with developers to
secure the farm for the future good?

As a board member of High Mowing School, Wilton, NH, the only Waldorf boarding high school in North America, I want to share how a seemingly insurmountable challenge involving educational needs and land conservation was successfully met.

The challenge had three parts: 1) a retiring farm family whose land was their only asset. The land had fine views. It was highly valued for housing; 2) the high school has a strong horticultural program and needs prime soils; 3) the country’s first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) operates on abutting land, thus offers hands-on opportunities for students.

Question: How does a small, non-profit school compete with developers to secure the farm for the future good? The Russell Foundation has the expertise to get public and private grants to purchase farmland. The farm will be permanently protected. The farmer will have met his goal. High Mowing School will be able to expand its curriculum offerings for its students. Working with the Foundation has been a truly inspiring experience for all who are partyto the endeavor.”

– Phil Brooks, Lyndeborough, New Hampshire

Town Boards

Mason Town Hall, Mason, NH

A message from the Mason Conservation Commission

“Commitment, competence and compassion were evident upon first meeting with Mr. Russell and Mr. McSweeney. The Mason Conservation Commission is most grateful for the invaluable assistance of Ian McSweeney as we worked through the lengthy process of accepting the generous gift of a large tract of land with an abandoned granite quarry. Ian quickly involved The Society for Protection of NH Forests to explore the possibility of an easement being placed on the land to ensure protection in perpetuity. His ability to communicate with a variety of professional contacts has allowed the project to progress in a focused, organized fashion.

The involvement of the Russell Foundation is a gift that Mason could never afford as we are a small, rural town. Without a doubt, the Russell Foundation is an invaluable resource for southern New Hampshire. How fortunate we are!”

– Barbara DeVore, on behalf of the Mason Conservation Commission

Weare Town Hall, Weare, NH

“Speaking on the value of volunteerism in our community, and many of those volunteers who are working each year to preserve the rural character of the town through land conservation. Last year, voters approved the purchase of 137 acres of conservation land on East Road. The land, referred to as the Banks/Schmid property will be protected by a land easement held by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Twenty acres of that land will be set aside for town use. Selectmen toured that property in the fall to get a better picture of the contours of that 20 acres and its’ potential use. A gravel pit on the site will immediately provide gravel pit for the highway department, and there is certainly no shortage of large rocks there for crushed rock. Although some of the projects will be challenging, the Selectmen see future ball fields on that site. Most importantly is 100+ acres of farm and forest land that will go under conservation. This holds special value because it is contiguous with other protected land. One hundred years from now, people will be able to walk down East Road and see the same fields and woodlands that we see today. They will be able to walk the forests and trails in North Weare, and will be walking the same trails that we see today. Lets hope that 100 years from now, people are still coming to bat for what they believe in, and the spirit of volunteerism survives as long as the land.”

– Tom Clow, Weare Board of Selectmen, Chair