As our family celebrates 150 years of ‘growing’ in Guilford on the same home farm, and 14 generations later since 1639 when John Bishop signed the Guilford Covenant with other families who fled from the Church of England, I reflect upon a similar stewardship to land and our town bestowed by the Guilford Land Conservation Trust. GLCT has had a warm spot in the Bishop family ever since its inception in 1965. Albert Bishop was on the first Board of Directors and Gene Bishop was instrumental as a member of the Conservation Commission in starting GLCT.
The first property acquired and preserved by GLCT was donated by the Bishop family: 3rd generation members Arthur and Charles, along with Albert and Gene of the 4th generation. The 2.2 acre salt marsh donated had been in the family since 1871. Historically almost every farm had a portion of salt meadow that came with the original division of land in the 1600’s. This was because of the high value of weed-free salt marsh hay that was harvested from the marshes within the estuaries that were used on the farms. A history of local salt marsh usage and their importance is another involved topic for another time.
In October 28, 1965, the Shore Line Times front page lead article proclaimed the family donation to the newly formed GLCT. I confess I was only 10 years old when GLCT was formed and I didn’t learn or grasp the significance till my teenage years. It’s in our family blood to serve and give back to our community, and lo and behold, I was nominated and elected in 1978, a month before my wedding and a year out of college to serve as a GLCT Board member that led me to become the 8th GLCT President from 1985-88. Following in my parent’s and other family members footsteps, I learned the joy and satisfaction of working with and for community organizations. During my 10-year on the board we purchased and preserved 495 acres of land in Guilford. The total number of acres held by GLCT at the end of my presidency was 997. In 2021, a total of 3,200 acres of conservation land in Guilford is now protected by GLCT. Amazing growth and work by hundreds and hundreds of volunteer board members and leaders and thousands of members with supportive donations that have made these purchases and easement opportunities come to life in perpetuity.
Stewardship is nothing new to our 150-year-old family farm. Without it we would not be here as the 5th and 6th generations, now nurturing the 7th generation. As part of our family contribution both as stewards and Life Members of the Land Trust we continue to give back. We have chosen this month to have GLCT be the recipient of Bishop’s Orchards Round Up donation campaign at our farm market checkouts. We invite you to be stewards of GLCT by rounding up your purchase during the month of April, when spring comes alive, Earth Day is celebrated and heading out on a local hike is refreshing to your soul, spirit and health. So check out wonderful hiking opportunities on GLCT land in Guilford, consider becoming a land trust member and supporter, then shop at Bishop’s and enjoy ice cream at our Creamery and round up your purchase to support GLCT.