Carl Wallman (1944-2020)
Carl Wallman, founder of Graylag Nature Preserve, was an environmentalist, ecologist, farmer, breeder of championship cattle, apostle of naturalist philosopher Aldo Leopold, lifelong fan of the New York Yankees, and good neighbor and friend to many.
In addition to being the proprietor of Graylag Cabins on Wild Goose Pond, he co-founded the Northwood Area Land Management Collaborative (NALMC), which began in 2004 as a means by which neighbors working together could be good stewards of the land.
Carl was born in New York City on September 20, 1944, the second of two sons. After graduating from University of Wisconsin and studying mathematics at Northeastern University, Carl bought 180 acres of farmland in Northwood, and he eventually learned the basics of farming and raising Angus cattle. Over the next 25 years he turned Harmony Hill Farm into a great success. Carl developed innovative breeding techniques that had cattle ranchers from around the country studying his methods and buying his cattle, and in 1989 he was awarded the coveted Grand Championship Pen of three Angus Bulls at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.
In 1994 he sold his herd and purchased the main house and Lakeside cabin of Graylag, a property on Wild Goose Pond in Pittsfield that had been Bob Cousy’s basketball camp in the 1950s and 1960s. Inspired by the natural landscape and the philosophy of Aldo Leopold, he became determined to reach out to neighbors and build community, to think of the land as part of a larger system that knows no boundaries. He worked with NH Fish and Game to understand and map the watersheds and habitats, and he began a dialogue with neighbors about their common interests, across property lines and very often across ideological lines, too. That’s how — over many potluck suppers — NALMC was born in 2006.
After lovingly restoring the original owner’s home (Geib House) and some of the Graylag cabins and adding artistic touches throughout the property, in 2005 Carl began renting cabins to city folks, watching them connect with nature and themselves, and building community around the campfire. Gradually, Graylag grew and evolved as a place of healing and beauty.
In his final months, Carl succeeded in establishing paths for both Harmony Hill Farm and Graylag to continue in their current form well beyond his lifetime. The farm was donated to Southeast Land Trust under an innovative easement so that it will remain a farm forever. And his beloved Graylag was reborn as Graylag Nature Preserve, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting people with nature and one another.
Carl often reflected on how his family’s story led him to New Hampshire and Graylag. He wanted this story to be known and understood by those who would come to experience and value Graylag in the years to come. Here it is, in his own words:
My parents were immigrants from Eastern Europe. My mother was from a small town near Warsaw, and my father was from a small rural village near Kiev. They both endured unspeakable persecution and hardships. My father’s family would run to the forest and hide with their cows during pogroms. When my grandfather was slaughtered in a bloody pogrom in 1922, my father made the long journey to America to seek a better life.
My father came with the shirt on his back, and he did not speak a word of English. He worked very hard as a laborer, and eventually he started a floor covering business on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where he was able to buy a dilapidated apartment building for a few thousand dollars. Hard physical work was a privilege and heroic. He earned enough money to bring his brother and three sisters to live with him in New York. Unfortunately, his mother died of pneumonia on the trip to the United States.
My father never spoke of his childhood hardships, yet he had many fears and was very suspicious of his new life in this country. He would meet people on street corners to do business rather than speak on the phone or in offices.
My father passed away suddenly in 1966. In 1969, his brother Lou asked me to look for a farm in NH that we would own together. Owning land in Russia was forbidden, and this farm would be a connection for him to the old country and all the Jews that were persecuted and killed. “Only in America” could a Jew own farmland.
I bought a farm in Northwood in 1969, but unfortunately my uncle died before he could see our property. For the past 49 years, I have been a student and steward of the land in NH. I raised Angus cattle on Harmony Hill Farm from 1969 to 1994. In 1996 I moved to Graylag, where I learned about native plants, healthy ecosystems, and watersheds.
It is important to me that Graylag be seen as part of my family legacy, honoring our path from persecuted Jews in Eastern Europe to honorable protectors of this precious piece of land.