The Land Trust recently protected 29 acres on the eastern hillside of Skaneateles Lake in the town of Spafford with a conservation easement. The property has been in Art Woldt’s (1928-2017) family since 1920 when it was purchased by his grandfather who farmed the land into his 80s.
Protection of the property, which includes 1,640 feet of creek frontage, will help ensure water quality within the Skaneateles Lake watershed, and maintain the rural beauty of the area.
When Art first came from Staten Island to visit his grandparents’ farm in the early 1930s, he was barely three years old. The farmhouse where they lived had no plumbing, no electricity, and only a dirt road leading to the house. From the first day of school break to the last, Art spent every summer at the farm swimming, picking berries, building lean-tos, and helping his grandfather with various chores. He loved the quiet and peaceful open space, so different from the bustling streets of New York City.
The family was self-sufficient, relying on food grown or raised on the farm, and Art still remembers his grandmother’s apple pies, made from the Northern Spy variety grown in their orchard. In addition to apples, the farm produced wheat, corn, potatoes, and cabbage, and included a herd of dairy cows, pigs, and chickens.
This idyllic pastoral upbringing gave Art a close connection with the land that endures to this day. The decision to protect his land began with a desire to protect his family legacy and preserve it for his children and grandchildren. “My vision is that this land will always remain this way,” he said. “My children can come up here and fly kites, pick berries like I did, and enjoy nature — which pleases me.”
The land has been passed down through the family and now, at the age of 89, Art resides on the property in a house built by his parents where he enjoys observing the various wildlife that pass through his property including fox and coyote. Coincidentally, the donation of the conservation easement was completed on Art’s 89th birthday.
The property is within close proximity to the Land Trust’s High Vista and Hinchcliff Family preserves and across the lake and visible from the Land Trust’s Bahar Nature Preserve and Carpenter Falls. These conservation areas are key components of the Land Trust’s Skaneateles Highlands Protection Project, which aims to create a greenbelt around the south end of the lake.
Update, June 2017: Art Woldt passed away on June 9, 2017, shortly after he donated the conservation easement. He was 89.