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Randall's Farm Preserve: Access Your Primal Past (and Unleash Your Dog)

Does your heart sing when you gaze across a grassy meadow? There's a scientific explanation for why open scenic vistas are so universally captivating to humans. According to distinguished biologist and Pulitzer-prize-winning author E.O. Wilson, they let us recall our primal past. Our brains, he says, are evolutionarily programmed to appreciate views that mimic the savannas where our Pleistocene ancestors once lived, loved, and captured their food.

Now in Easton there's a place you can rekindle your prehistoric connection to nature.

The Randall's Farm Nature Preserve was officially opened on Friday morning at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by more than 30 Aspetuck Land Trust board members, supporters, and local media. Profuse thanks and a bouquet of flowers were bestowed on Mrs. Henry B. duPont III of Southport, who grew up in Easton as Joan Wheeler and donated the former dairy farm and pasture to the trust last year. “I have long enjoyed the beauty and serenity of farmland that is now becoming scarce," she said. "I am very pleased to be part of establishing a nature preserve like this which future generations  can enjoy."

The property is a 34-acre expanse of grassy meadows, gentle hills, marshy wetlands, small ponds, and hardwood forest inhabited by a variety of animal and plant life. Even from its parking lot on Sport Hill Road opposite Pheasant Lane, the view of the preserve is enchanting. A meander over its mile or more of mown paths is breathtaking and calm inducing.   

"There's nothing like opening a new preserve to justify a land trust's existence," said Aspetuck Land Trust President and Easton resident Princie Falkenhagen. The Randall's Farm fields today look exactly as they did 100 years ago, and the site will forever preserve this reminder of Easton's rural and agrarian existence, she said. "Most us moved to this funny little town because we love it," Falkenhagen said. But Easton's not a place where change happens quickly. Establishing the preserve was a "long haul" that took more than eight years, she said. 

Director David Brandt said that, as an open meadow, Randall's Farm is unique among the 44 preserves that the Land Trust maintains.

"We own 1,800 acres in four towns, and there is nothing like this in our inventory," added Easton resident and steward of the preserve Bruce LePage. "Farm fields are hard to come by."

Following the opening ceremony, LePage led visitors on a guided hike over freshly mowed trails, stopping along the way to point out deer beds and clover patches, red-winged blackbirds and woodpeckers, milkweeds and pussy willows, and a tractor, formerly Paul Newman's, that LePage uses to maintain the area.

It's not only humans whose primal nature will be set free by the new preserve. Unlike other Aspectuck trails where new leash laws restrain pets, dogs are permitted off leash at Randall's Farm. Horses, however, are prohibited in the preserve's wetland areas, and riders must seek permission to venture into its dry areas.

The Aspetuck Land Trust will host a guided butterfly hike at the new preserve on July 28. Whether you join then or go exploring on your own, let us know if your visit ignites some latent, ancient joy and makes you a believer in E.O. Wilson's savanna hypothesis. 

Photos by Simply Maura Photography. For more photos, see Fairfield's HamletHub Facebook page. To download a trail map, vist the Aspetuck Land Trust website.

 

 

 

 

 

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