Commissioner Scott Soares
Commissioner, Department of Agriculture Resources (DAR)
This Sunday, sun is in the forecast to shine the light on a win-win-win project for the town of Northampton. The Trust for Public Land (TPL) spearheaded a conservation initiative at the local and state level to preserve open space for public recreation opportunities like fishing and hiking, community gardening, and the opportunity to buy local food direct from local farmers.
The public is invited to join in the celebration at the ground breaking event on Sunday, May 22nd from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. where visitors can enjoy local asparagus, strawberries, cake, and music. There will be many activities including a river walk, organized sports, and horse and wagon tours.
TPL brokered deals with two sellers, ultimately purchasing the Bean and Allard farms in December of 2010. Twenty-four acres were conveyed to the city of Northampton for use as a recreational complex, 35 acres along the Mill River to the Northampton Conservation Commission for addition to the Mill River Greenway, and an Agricultural Preservation Restriction over the remaining farmland to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and the city of Northampton. GrowFood Northampton, a non-profit organization, led a successful $670,500 campaign to purchase the farmland so it could be leased to organic farmers and gardeners who will grow food for local consumption.
Growers who lease land on the new community farm will employ sustainable production techniques, provide on-farm educational opportunities, and commit to helping low-income residents gain access to fresh, local foods. The farmland is part of DAR’s Agriculture Preservation Restriction program, which was established in 1977. EEA’s Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities Program (PARC) also provided a $500K grant that was used for the acquisition, design, and construction of the new recreation park facility.
The Bean and Allard Farm project has permanently preserved 121 acres and demonstrates that communities can cooperate with local, state, and federal partners – through USDA’s Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program for example - to achieve great success.
For more information or to RSVP to this weekend's event, visit www.tpl.org/Massachusetts or contact Clem Clay at (413)253-6686.