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Gerry Palano

Gerry Palano

Energy/Energy Efficiency Coordinator, Department of Agricultural Resources

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Agricultural Trivia Question of the Day: What and where is the oldest continuously working farm in America – since the beginning of the Colonial Period?

Answer: Appleton Farms in Hamilton/Ipswich – presently owned and operated by The Trustees of Reservations – became a farm circa 1635. The 1000-acre farm is now a diverse operation of dairy, livestock, vegetables, grain, and will soon add cheese-making.

Leaving Appleton Farms on a recent hot summer day after reviewing the latest completed DAR-supported agricultural energy and environmental projects with General Manager Wayne Castonguay, I realized how many times that day I just kept thinking and saying “Wow!” I ultimately attributed this to a combination of the farm’s history, its people and the type of passion that every so often makes one feel how great it is to be part of this world. What better way to summarize my experience there that day than with “Wow!” recall. Here goes:

Wow! #1: I think it’s pretty neat having the oldest working farm in America right here, only 20 miles north of Boston, off Route 1A. And it is meant to be visited and toured!

Wow! #2: Appleton Farms introduced to America the three staple breeds of the dairy industry: Jerseys, Guernseys, and Holsteins.

Wow! #3: Appleton boasts the second largest Consumer Supported Agriculture membership in all New England with over 800 members.wood boiler

More Wows!: In the past three years alone, The Trustees of Reservations at Appleton Farms have:

  1. Created a five-year energy and environmental plan to become more energy efficient and sustainable and eliminate their overall carbon footprint;
  2. Replaced an older outdoor wood boiler serving the dairy parlor, farm office headquarters and soon-to-be cheese-making building with a new unit; all wood is site derived, all from already downed trees;
  3. Installed a meteorological tower to assess the farm’s wind resource potential;
  4. Begun a complete gutting and restoration of one of the farm’s oldest buildings, the “Old House,” the home for generations of Appletons. Originally built in 1794, the 4700 the old house - restoration in progresssquare foot building will now become the Trustees’ new Center for Agriculture and Environment and is being designed as a zero net energy facility, featuring solar thermal, lighting and electrical systems, biomass heating, heat recovery ventilation and rainwater recovery for bathroom toilet use.
  5. Installed new energy efficient lighting and a “free” hot water refrigerant heat recovery tank system for their dairy barn and parlor;
  6. Installed a new ground-mounted, evacuated tube, solar thermal hot water system to work in series with the “free” hot water heater above to provide required high temperature domestic hot water needs for their dairy and new cheese-making operations;
  7. solar thermal hot water system

  8. Through a Memorandum of Understanding with MassDEP and DAR, installed a storage tank, pump and vegetative strip system to filtrate milk house waste liquids. This includes ground water monitoring wells;
  9. Installed a new MA Certified Outdoor Wood Boiler to replace an existing propane heater serving their primary greenhouse; also uses on-site derived wood, as noted above;
  10. Have designed and engineered a 50 kW ground-mounted PV system to offset 100 percent of the farm’s annual needs; in financing procurement stage;
  11. Have developed a software program to quantify the Farms’ carbon footprint, including measuring their own carbon sequestration.

And there is more come. Please stay tuned. In the meantime, CONGRATULATIONS to The Trustees of Reservations for their remarkable energy and environmental achievements and stewardship!

Written By:


As Deputy Director of DOER's Green Communities Division, Lisa helps lead a team devoted to working with Massachusetts cities and towns to realize environmental and cost benefits of municipal energy efficiency and renewable energy. Prior to joining DOER, Lisa worked in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs from 2007 to 2012, first as Press Secretary and then as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Public Affairs. Her previous communications and public relations experience includes both government and the private sector, where, as principal of upWrite Communications, she served clients such as The Trustees of Reservations, The Nature Conservancy, and Partners Health Care/North Shore Medical Center. She began her career as a journalist, covering Beacon Hill for the State House News Service, and later wrote for a variety of other publications including The Boston Globe, Teacher Magazine, Animals Magazine, and The Gulf of Maine Times. The author of two books, Lisa serves on the board of the Saugus River Watershed Council and resides with her family in Melrose.

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