Waste Manager to Woodsman

A forest landowner’s journey through the trees.

| September/October 2008

Just north of the Catskills, in a picturesque slice of heaven, lives a retired New York City sanitation worker. Several years ago, he made the life-changing move from city dweller to rural citizen, and, along the way, he incorporated environmental ethics into his way of life. Today, he’s known as a model forest landowner and conservationist. This is a story of his transition from managing waste to managing for sustainability.

Today, 58-year-old Anthony Scarfuto lives with his wife, Lynn, on a sprawling, partially wooded, 165-acre property that overlooks the rolling hillsides of Springfield in Otsego County, New York. By all measures, their lifestyle would be a dream come true for many people. They have privacy and are surrounded by scenic beauty and wildlife. They have abundant natural resources. A spring out back provides an endless stream of fresh water. Plenty of land is available for farming if desired. Trees provide a sustainable wood supply, as well as a habitat for local flora and fauna. They own a comfortable estate, feel close to nature and have achieved an enviable work/life balance.

Dream come true

Anthony first conceived of buying acreage in the country as a home and a means to make money. "I wanted a future investment," he says. "If I had to sell off a piece, I could do it and still live comfortably. It was a worthwhile investment. I bought five lots total over the years, one lot at a time."

The Scarfutos built their home seven years ago on a hillside featuring majestic views of the surrounding countryside. The dwelling has extra thick insulation to keep heating costs down. "We use a geothermal heat pump. We heat the house for about 50-75 cents a day." They supplement that heat source sustainably with firewood that Anthony harvests from their land.

Anthony loves the outdoors and managing his own natural habitat. "We have deer, woodchucks, porcupines, skunks, rabbits and the occasional black bear. They like the berries. We have a wide variety of birds here. We see everything from bald eagles to hummingbirds. My neighbor, a bird expert, said that’s a sign of a healthy area."

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