Fact Sheet

Flanders Fact Sheet

Contact Information 

Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust

Mailing Address:  5 Church Hill Road
Physical (Office) Address:  596 Flanders Road

Woodbury, CT 06798
Fax 203-263-2214
E-mail: flanders@flandersnaturecenter.org
Board President: Jodi Wasserstein
Executive Director: Vincent D. LaFontan, MHA
Media Contact: Ana Jordan


Flanders’ mission is to provide opportunities to appreciate nature’s wonders and preserve land, inspiring lifelong learning about our natural world.


Flanders Vision is to be a leading resource and destination of choice for environmental and outdoor education, research, land preservation and stewardship, farm experiences, and arts activities, reflecting the needs of our changing and inclusive communities and evolving partnerships.

Time Line

  • 1926: Van Vleck family of New York purchases farm on Flanders Road in Woodbury, CT
  • Daughter Natalie Van Vleck, accomplished artist, builds studio on parents’ property
  • 1934: Van Vlecks purchase 108 acres from Connecticut Light & Power Co.
  • 1935: Natalie Van Vleck gives up art to found fully-working turkey farm on parents’ property
  • 1942: Natalie inherits Woodbury farm from parents
  • 1955: Natalie Van Vleck operating successful Hampshire sheep farm, well-known on East Coast
  • 1960s Suburban development encroaches upon Woodbury’s agricultural traditions. In consultation with environmentalists, Natalie Van Vleck evolves idea to develop nature center on her property to preserve it in perpetuity
  • 1963: Flanders Nature Center Inc. chartered as a non-profit organization
  • 1973: Flanders becomes one of first land trusts in area, receiving gift of 6.5 acre Manville Kettle property
  • 1981: Natalie Van Vleck dies at her home on Christmas Day and eventually leaves her estate to Flanders Nature Center
  • 1999: Acquisition of the 686 acre Whittemore Sanctuary, received first state DEP Open Space grant
  • 2002: New sugar House built; Buz Russell Farm and Rural Life museum donated; Flanders creates new farm education program; Farm Trail developed to connect Trail House and Sugar House to Studio, North & South Barn areas
  • 2013: Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust is 50 years old
  • 2016: Flanders achieves accreditation as a land trust through Land Trust Alliance and accreditation as a licensed camp provider through the Office of Early Childhood
  • 2020: Flanders launches NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) Academies
  • 2022: Kick off of the 60th Anniversary Capital Campaign for enhancements to environmental educational facilities
  • 2023: Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust is 60 years old

Flanders Places: Preserves and Sanctuaries

Sanctuary and Preserves

  • Flanders holds in trust more than 2,400 acres of open space in Woodbury, Bethlehem, Southbury and Middlebury, CT.
  • Holdings include seven nature preserves and sanctuaries
  • Stewards more than 50 open space properties, managing and monitoring the properties to preserve their natural beauty and care for the system through astute land-use practices
  • Organization plays active role with municipal regulatory committees and regional and state organizations to identify opportunities for preserving more land in future

Van Vleck Farm and Nature Sanctuary

  • Original location of Van Vleck Farm at corner of Flanders and Church Hill Roads, Woodbury
  • Serves as nature sanctuary and teaching campus of Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust, which hosts educational programs for children, adults and school groups
  • Buildings include a farmhouse, studio, trail house, sugar house and barns
  • Landscape includes stone walls, fields, meadows, forests, wetlands, marshes, streams and ponds
  • Network of well-marked and maintained hiking trails.
  • Click HERE for map

Whittemore Sanctuary

  • 686 acres located off Route 64 in Woodbury
  • 8-mile trail system open to the public
  • Ecological habitats include woodlands, streams, ponds, a large bog and abutting lake.
  • Click HERE for map

 Manville Kettle

  •  6.5 acres off Jackson Avenue in Woodbury, near town center
  • Known as a “kettle” because of geological depression formed during Ice Age
  •  Landscape includes open field, mixed trees and a swamp

 Hetzel Refuge

  • 54 acres located in Middlebury, CT, bordered by Middlebury Land Trust property, accessed from Breakneck Hill Road
  • Refuge includes woodlands, hay fields, conifer plantations, swamps and man-made ponds
  • Excellent trail system
  • Click HERE for map

 Fredrick W. Marzahl Memorial Refuge

  • Located to east and west of Route 132 in Woodbury
  • Encompasses stream, waterfall, forestland and semi-open fields
  • Click HERE for map

 Leavenworth Preserve

  • 126 acres adjacent to a residential development in Woodbury
  • Wildlife habitat with low-impact trail system
  • Located across from Pilgrim Trail and Plumb Brook cul-de-sac
  • Click HERE for map

 Fleming Preserve

  •  28.5 acres, fronting on Cowles Road in Woodbury
  • Site of Flanders’ historic Sap House overlook and Sugar Bush
  • Landscape is forests, meadows, trails, apple orchard, stone walls and an overlook
  • Click HERE for map