Loving the Land
Peter ’60 and Anne Wagner Silberfarb ’62 put their hearts into conservation
by Heidi Hormel
Accidental preservationists 50 years ago, Peter ’60 and Anne Wagner Silberfarb ’62 were more deliberate in 2013 when they donated easements to the Vermont Land Trust from the 196-acre parcel they bought in the late 1960s as a getaway spot.
Peter and Anne Wagner Silberfarb on their land
Volunteer conservationists Peter (right) and Anne Wagner Silberfarb on their land.
“While searching, we saw a property that looked untouched by logging, and we bought it,” explains education major Anne Silberfarb, who retired in 2000 after a decades-long career working in special education. “It was a very special forest we bought unknowingly” in Sharon, Vt.

The couple later discovered the property was adjacent to nearly 2,000 conserved acres, which support needed wildlife corridors and also contain the increasingly rare vernal (seasonal) pools where amphibians breed.

Over the years, while learning about conservation through their volunteer work on the boards of the Vermont Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Northern Woodlands, The Vermont Institute of Natural Science and the Montshire Museum of Science, the couple made “wildlife improvements,” explains Peter Silberfarb, a biology graduate who became a psychiatrist. He was chair of the psychiatry department at Dartmouth Medical School for 17 years, until his retirement in 2003.

The land’s improvements include “patch cuts,” where large trees were removed to allow smaller plants to sprout and provide cover for hare and grouse. The couple left the woodlands intact to attract larger mammals, such as moose, deer and bobcats.

The Silberfarbs, who since 1966 have lived in Norwich, Vt. — 20 minutes from their conserved land — love the wildflowers growing on the land’s steep hills. They regularly lead wildflower walks and invite photographers to capture images of the plants.

Eager to share their passion for conservation, they invite alumni to visit. Says Peter, “We like the outdoors and want more people to experience it.”