Restoring Habitat at Banks Farm South

The orchard at Banks Farm South. Photo Copyright Connecticut Audubon Society.

October 2012 – Banks Farm South, 60 acres of meadows, wetlands and forest, hearkens back to Fairfield’s early farmland history.

Wedged between a golf course and a gated community on the Fairfield-Westport town line, the sanctuary was originally owned by John Banks in the seventeenth century and has been farmed almost continually since. Robert and Virginia Vanderbilt donated the land to Connecticut Audubon Society in 1998.

Our conservation biologists have been planning and carrying out a habitat restoration project on the property. Their goal is to transform an apple orchard and Red Cedar meadow, which over time became overgrown with invasive species, back into the spot that Robert Vanderbilt considered one of his favorite – an orchard-cedar complex both beautiful and rich in wildlife.

Through a partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture), and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, we leveraged funding to restore this hillside to its former glory.

Over the past three years we have cut back infringing hardwoods, removed foreign invasives such as Japanese barberry, Autumn Olive and Multiflora Rose, and released some of the old apple and cedar trees that had been “buried” by canopy and Asiatic Bittersweet.

The native grasses and wildflowers, which seemed to have been extirpated, bounced back with the restored sunlight on the meadow floor.

It looks great but we are far from finished. Deer browsing continues to be a problem and invasive plants will need to be controlled. We are planning to add Highbush Blueberry and Red Cedar to complement the meadow.

All in all, we think Robert and Virginia Vanderbilt would be pleased with our conservation effort on their former woodland meadow.

Learn more about our conservation services work here!

4 Responses to “Restoring Habitat at Banks Farm South”

  1. Meg francis says:

    What’s the actual address of this site?

    Thank you

  2. Tom Andersen says:

    It’s on Merwin’s Lane in Fairfield. You can find directions here on our Sanctuaries page.

    I should have included that link in the original. – Tom Andersen

  3. Carolyn Rogers says:

    Have lived on Bronson Road since 1979. The last 2 years we have had many more Barn Swallows nesting than before. What a joy!

  4. Tom Andersen says:

    That’s good to know. As you might have heard, Barn Swallows and other aerial insectivores are suffering from long-term population declines. We covered it in our Connecticut State of the Birds 2013 report.

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