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Love of the Land



For all that Dan Barrett has accomplished in his successive careers as a science teacher at Greenwich High School and helping run the Greenwich Land Trust, one gets the feeling that he was hardly working at all. Make no mistake: He devoted countless hours to his jobs. Nearly four decades of students came away with a better appreciation—and in many cases, a passion—for marine biology and oceanography. And anyone who enjoys seeing natural, open space around town owes him a certain debt of gratitude. But in many ways Dan’s work was also Dan’s play. It afforded him the opportunity to pursue myriad interests, satisfy his curiosity, and perhaps best of all bring others along for the ride. “I loved them both,” he says of his positions.

Dan retired from the land trust effective January 1. On Saturday, June 9 the organization will hold a celebration in his honor, Go Wild @ Night: A Tribute to Dan Barrett, at Greenwich Point’s Secret Garden. Proceeds will go toward the establishment of a stewardship fund to care for the nonprofit’s properties in perpetuity.

During Dan’s thirty-eight years at Greenwich High (he retired in 1995), he was the kind of teacher that students long remembered. In teaching oceanography, he established a laboratory at Greenwich Point and created a foundation to buy special equipment for his classes. Warmer months were devoted to studying marine life. In cold weather it was the waves and the currents. There were also trips to places like St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Through it all was a give and take between Dan and his students and a camaraderie that made learning under him something special. “My whole concept of teaching was to get involved,” Dan says. “I got in there and I got dirty with the students. We had textbooks and films to look at, but much of our time was out in the field.”

So it was, in a different capacity, with the Greenwich Land Trust, where given some overlap with his teaching he spent twenty-four years and held such titles as executive director and environmental director. “He really was the face and the heart of the land trust for many, many years,” says Ginny Gwynn, the current executive director. The group, which manages 733 acres in Greenwich, with some carryover into Stamford and New York state, is dedicated to the conservation of open space. Its properties, acquired through donations and conservation easements, range from salt marshes to meadows to woodlands.

They are places that Dan Barrett knows intimately from a quarter century of walking and overseeing the land. “I know where every corner is of every site,” he says. “I’ve done it so long that people used to laugh and say, ‘Well, what if you’re not here, who is going to know where the corner points are?’” GPS technology, it turns out, is taking over where Dan left off.

His projects, each one pursued with contagious enthusiasm, were legion. Dan helped in the acquisition of property for the land trust. He started keeping detailed notebooks (now on computer) for each of the group’s holdings, recording everything about the parcels and their upkeep. He revived historical apple orchards and in the process brought in beekeepers, schoolchildren, and others to take part and enjoy the bounty. He studied and spoke about the town’s stonewalls. He worked to restore woodcock habitat and the American chestnut. On another front, he helped establish the town’s Shellfish Commission and got the local shellfish beds reopened.

Longtime residents of Cos Cob, Dan and his wife, Cynthia, moved to Shelton recently. But Dan’s schedule seems as packed as ever. This winter, he took a tour of a 900-acre farm not far from his new home and was already working on a presentation about Shelton’s stonewalls. “I’ve been out and getting to know the terrain,” he reports. “I’ve been busy and getting busier as time goes by.”

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Greenwich Agenda

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     @ Stamford JCC

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  • Antarctica: Photographs by Diane Tuft

    2014.10.28
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  • Exhibition: Northern Baroque Splendor

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     @ Bruce Museum

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  • The Best of 2014: Cecile Chong, David, Ruth Hiller, David Licata, Loanne Mattera, Jill Parisi, Kristen Thiele

    2014.11.08
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY I Dates: November 8 – December 22, 2014     Opening Reception: November 8, 6:30 – 8:00 PM Public Invited THE BEST OF 2014:  Cecile...

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  • IMAGINE CANDY- SWEET TASTINGS!!!

    2014.10.24
     @ Imagine Candy

    Imagine Candy located in Scarsdale Village- Winner of 2014 Best West of Westchester by Westchester Magazine- holds a Belgian Chocolate and Candy...

  • Christmas Tree and Wreath Sale for Charity

    2014.11.29
     @ First Congregational Church of Greenwich

    O, Christmas Tree; O Christmas Tree Buy your tree and help those in need this Christmas! It’s time for the annual Christmas Tree and...

  • "Paper & Stone" an exhibition by Ellen Gordon & Sary Backer at the Loft Artists Gallery

    2014.11.01
     @ Loft Artists Gallery

    Paper and Stone” An exhibition by Sary Backer & Ellen Gordon November 1 - November 30th Artists’ reception: November 8th from 4 – 6 PM...

  • Family Gallery Tours

    2014.10.26
     @ Bruce Museum

    Designed for children ages 6-10 and their families, these tours will provide an interactive, discussion-based tour of the museum’s current...

  • Tuesday Toddler Tours

    2014.11.04
     @ Bruce Museum

    Children ages 3-5 and their adult caregivers are encouraged to come explore the Museum’s collections and exhibitions through picture books...

  • Greenwich Gives

    2014.12.02
     @ Greenwich Avenue

    Looking for a fun way to complete your holiday shopping and give back to your community?    On December 2, 2014, local non-profits...

  • Breast Cancer Alliance Holiday Gift Boutique

    2014.12.02
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    More than 40 skilled artisans, designers, and purveyors of finely crafted goods and provisions will showcase their wares at the Breast Cancer...

  • Holiday WOW At Your Front Door!

    2014.12.02
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Beautify your entrance way with luscious holiday evergreens, berries, pinecones and more, sure to last throughout the dreary winter...

  • Exercise as Treatment for Chronic Pain

    2014.12.02
     @ Noble Conference Room Greenwich Hospital

    Presented by Greenwich Hospital and Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists Exercise as Treatment for Chronic Pain Tuesday, 12/2/14 at...

  • Israeli Film Series | Bethlehem

    2014.12.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    Join us throughout the year for award-winning films direct from Israel that will show you Israel through the lens of a movie camera. Following each...

  • Holiday Della Robbia Wreath

    2014.12.03
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Create a lavishly decorated live wreath for your home this holiday season with Maureen FitzPatrick. Using a variety of real...

  • Picture This with Authors Lisa Barr & Gabrielle Selz

    2014.12.03
     @ The Drawing Room

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  • Holiday Tea

    2014.12.04
     @ Garden Education Center of Greenwich

    Back by popular demand!  An elegant multigenerational holiday tea party featuring a delightful afternoon tea, delicacies and a gift...


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