Champlain Valley Cohousing consists of about 125 acres of pasture, old field, farm, and woodlot, bordering the upper reaches of Thorp Brook which eventually flows into Lake Champlain. Hundreds of years ago before it was farmed by Native Americans and then Europeans, the entire acreage was covered by Clay Plain Forest, a wet type of Northern Hardwood Forest typified by white oak, red oak, red maple, white pine, shagbark hickory, and white ash. Other associated tree species include hemlock, sugar maple, beech, swamp white oak, and burr oak.
Today about 40 acres of the mature forest type still exists at CVC with the trees about 60-100 years old, with some individual oak trees possibly 150-200 years old. The woodlot has some beautiful groves of mature pine and hemlock with an odd patch of pure white cedar, very dark and spooky. On the brook in the woods is a stretch of dead trees which are the remains of a large beaver pond. There is also some planted groves of younger white pine and white ash on the northern border of the upper pasture/ farmland area.
In the spring, April through June, there is a continuing display of wildflowers in our woods, from the gentle hepatica which is the first to bloom in April followed by the Yellow Adder's tongue (or Dog Tooth Violet), Blue Bead lily, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, white Trilliums, Bloodroot, and a profusion of violets in several colors from Blue, to Violet, to White. These plants are taking advantage of the warm spring sunlight pouring onto the forest floor before the trees leaf out, leaving the area in relative darkness.
Our pastures are a mix of native and exotic grasses and forbs, with nice spring displays of yellow, blue, and purple flowers. The old fields are pastures going through the process of succession into shrubby woodland of Eastern Red Cedar (actually a juniper), patches of dogwood and ash with goldenrod understory. The entire CVC property, underlain by clay, is pretty moist and wet overall and does not shed precipitation very quickly.
Our woods support a nice variety of forest birds including American robins, black-capped chickadees, goldfinches, white-breasted nuthatch, red-wing blackbirds, a few species of woodpeckers, and even a barred owl, red-tailed hawk, great blue heron or two, and an occasional flock of wild turkeys and families of ruffed grouse. We have a very healthy vole and chipmunk population. There are a few very secretive deer, and we often see tracks and scat of skunks, raccoons, opossums, red fox, and coyote, with a rare bobcat sighting. We have some very small and harmless snakes (garter and Dekay's snakes) with some frequent sightings of painted turtles in our fire pond.
Our pond and upland are also home to some red-spotted newts, frogs (spring peepers, wood, green, bull, leopard, and graytree frogs) and American toads. In the forest the bright orange red eft salamanders are the land stage of the newt. Our pond has a fun community of harmless water beetles, dragon and damsel flies, and some crayfish who live near the dock.
We have some of the finest summer light displays of fireflies in Vermont, bar none.
- Jim and Mary
We have a public trail crossing our land; we are working with the town of Charlotte to fit this into their plan for a longer trail connecting Charlotte Village with Mt. Philo State Park. We will be taking into account view sheds, sensitive areas, places to sit and relax, and places that we would prefer to keep private. Our Land Use Circle is taking all these things into consideration, and learning the land as best they can in all weathers, to try to make the best trail system for all of us, animals and plants as well as people.
Approximately 5 minutes from beautiful Lake Champlain and 12 miles south of Burlington (Vermont's largest city and only 25 minutes away), we are located on Common Way, a new road off Greenbush Road in Charlotte, Vermont. Charlotte is located in Chittenden County on the east short of Lake Champlain and consists of a mixture of historic residential homes, newer homes, a historic brick general store, and small village businesses and town offices clustered in the charming village area just west of the Route 7 corridor that runs north-south through the town paralleling the lake. Our land is located west of Route 7 in an area that is still primarily farmland. Right along the lake are clustered many historic "camp" neighborhoods built early in the 20th century. Many camps have been passed down from generation to generation in these stable, cohousing-like neighborhoods.
We have a pleasant, 3-mile bike ride along country roads both paved and dirt, bringing you to the Lake Champlain Ferry, which goes every half hour during the season to Essex, NY. Essex is a wonderful place to have a scenic lunch and to explore historic architecture before crossing the lake and riding home again.
From Burlington, travel south along Route 7 (Shelburne Road). You will pass through the towns of South Burlington and Shelburne and into Charlotte. At the first set of lights in Charlotte, turn right off of Route 7 onto Ferry Road (also known as VT-F5). Proceed approximately two-tenths of a mile to a four-way stop with a blinking light. Turn left onto Greenbush Road. Travel south on Greenbush Road for 1.4 miles. Turn left on Common Way. Follow this road until the first residence is in view, then bear left at the fork. Follow guest parking signs and park on left.