Appleton Farms Receives Federal Stimulus Funds, Grants and Donations
for LEED-Certifiable Green Renovations for the “Old House,” which will become the Trustees’ New Center for Agriculture and the Environment
Beverly, MA – As part of a deepening commitment to preserving the agricultural heritage of Massachusetts – and to demonstrating sustainable care and management of special places across the state – The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) announced exciting changes taking place at Appleton Farms, the oldest farm still in operation in America. Located in Hamilton and Ipswich, MA, Appleton Farms has secured a place in history and the community with its iconic farm, popular year-round programs for adults and children, and successful 500-shareholder Community Supported Agriculture program.
Now, The Trustees, who have owned and cared for Appleton Farms since 2000, are taking a leap toward a greener future with the renovation of the farm’s iconic 18th-century “Old House,” which will be home to The Trustees’ new Center for Agriculture and the Environment. The Center will become one of The Trustees’ primary focal points for engaging the public in how to live sustainably, save energy, support local agriculture, and conserve open space through year-round education and outreach. Thanks to generous community donations, grants, and federal stimulus funding, the Center for Agriculture and the Environment will aim to inspire and develop the next generation of citizen conservationists with tools to embrace sustainable living and face the ongoing challenges of global climate change.
Center for Agriculture and the Environment
The Center for Agriculture and the Environment will provide a public gateway to Appleton Farms. It will serve as a home base for all of the farm’s programs, where visitors will be able to learn more about the value that local farms and local food play in our overall health and economy through hands-on exhibits and photographs. Community members will be able to experience and learn first-hand about the benefits and production of sustainable food and the health advantages of grass-fed beef. Visitors will learn that farms play a powerful role in protecting the natural and cultural heritage that defines so much of Massachusetts’ rural landscape. Landowners will visit to find out about best conservation practices and how to protect their land from developers. Farming enthusiasts and agricultural history buffs will be able to access a new research library containing the Appleton family’s collection of agricultural and equine books, paintings, and prints. The library will also provide access to the world’s largest electronic, searchable database offering information on land management and agricultural resources.
In addition, the Center will also serve as the base for Appleton Farms’ extensive community programs, offering meeting space for volunteers and training space for the Appleton Farms Apprentice program, which seeks to create the next generation of farmers schooled in sustainable growing practices. The Center will also serve as the home base for The Trustees farm-based education programs, which provide children, teens and adults with hands-on experience in farming while fostering a lifelong love for the environment. And, for those looking to go beyond sustainable agriculture practices and to learn more about how to make their entire farming operation or buildings and land carbon-neutral, the Center will serve as a key resource. It will provide a real-world demonstration of sustainable, commercial farming and land management practices, while also offering additional outreach programs and consultation services.
“We are excited to launch this new Center under the leadership of Wayne Castonguay, former Appleton Farms Manager and new Director of The Trustees Center for Agriculture and the Environment,” says Andrew Kendall, President of The Trustees of Reservations. “We look forward to working with Wayne to replicate Appleton Farms’ successful community-based programs on other Trustees agricultural properties across the state. With his expertise, we will work to engage more people in healthy and sustainable living and promote locally-grown food as we expand our farm-based education programs and carbon-neutral farming and land management practices.”
Currently, The Trustees own, operate, manage and/or lease 13 farms across the state and have protected more than 50 farms totaling 10,000 acres in the past decade.
Sustainable Farming Practices & Green-ovations
A key mission of Appleton Farms is to practice and encourage sustainable agriculture. The farm is also working to make its entire operation carbon-neutral through energy efficient building renovation projects. Some sustainable practices already being implemented at Appleton Farms include organic farming methods, grass-based livestock production, biomass heating, permanent increase of carbon storage in our soils, crop rotation and composting, and the use of post-consumer biodiesel and alternative vehicles and equipment.
In October, The Trustees embarked on a major project to convert 4,700 square feet of Appleton Farms’ historic Old House (including the original 1794 farmhouse and the 1872 west wing, which has been abandoned for 15 years) into a net-zero energy building (producing and using the same amount of energy). When complete, The Trustees hope the new Center for Agriculture and the Environment building will have earned Gold LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. (LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a building-rating system established by the U.S. Green Building Council to measure the “greenness” of buildings.) The Trustees hope the Center will serve as a demonstration model for sustainable restoration. The green building will feature the following: deep energy retrofits including a highly efficient wood-fired boiler that will burn dead wood and harvested wood from the farm; heat recovery ventilation equipment that ensures excellent air quality; and rainwater harvesting techniques to provide captured rainwater for flushing toilets. The building will also feature insulation that exceeds current building codes.
The Trustees have contracted with Allsopp Design of Hamilton, and are currently implementing Phase I of the restoration, which includes planning, engineering, demolition, structural repairs, and exterior renovation of the Old House.
“The greenest building is the one that already exists,” says Wayne Castonguay, new Director of The Trustees Center for Agriculture and the Environment. “I00% of the demolition and construction waste from the renovation will be recycled or reused. For example, many old windows will be restored, and where necessary, new ones installed, illustrating the appropriate use of both in a renovation where energy efficiency and historic preservation are so critical. Unpainted plaster from the house interior will be used to enrich the soil around the farm, replacing the need for other fossil-fuel based fertilizers. And, lumber from the interior is being salvaged and reused as the building is revitalized.”
Grants, Donations and Stimulus Funds Making It All Possible
Appleton Farms is well on its way to reducing much of its carbon footprint.
The current renovations have been made possible by an incredible outpouring of support from 170 donors (totaling nearly $1,420,000); grants (totaling $29,750 for the dairy solar hot water heater and wood-fired boiler for the greenhouse) from the Department of Agricultural Resources; a grant (totaling $9,725) for the replacement outdoor wood boiler from the Department of Energy Resources; and federal stimulus funds (totaling $200,000) through a partnership with the Architectural Heritage Foundation, which awarded a total of $650,000 to two Trustees properties and one Historic New England property. To date, a total of $1.6 million of the $1.75 million project has been committed, including endowment funds.
“The Department of Energy Resources grant monies will enable Appleton Farms to conduct a ‘deep energy retrofit’ for the Old House, which will make the house 55% more energy efficient than today’s building code requires,” says Jim Younger, The Trustees’ Director for Structural Resources. Younger has also helped The Trustees apply for funding to install a solar panel array, which will generate enough electricity for the entire farming operation at Appleton Farms.
More About Appleton Farms
One of 20 Trustees reservations located on the North Shore, Appleton Farms is set on 1,000 acres and provides a rare glimpse into New England’s agricultural past with rolling grasslands, grazing livestock, stone walls, and historic farm buildings. A gift of Colonel Francis R. Appleton, Jr., and his wife Joan, Appleton Farms is the oldest continuously operating farm in the country, established and maintained by nine generations of the Appleton family.
In 1636, Samuel Appleton established the farm, growing vegetables, corn, and hay. Later generations of Appletons expanded into timber, beef, and dairy production, using progressive farming techniques beginning in 1868. By the late 19th century, the farm was primarily a summer country estate, complete with foxhunts and steeplechases, stone pinnacles from the Gore Hall Library at Harvard (alma mater to generations of Appletons), and the Grass Rides – five miles of trails and tree-lined grass avenues (called "rides") built for horseback and carriage driving.
Today, The Trustees are carrying on the Appleton family’s farming traditions by offering hundreds of programs, tours, events, a farm field school, and fully operating dairy, beef and Community Supported Agriculture programs.
The Trustees of Reservations Statewide
The Trustees are 100,000 people like you who love the outdoors and the distinctive charms of New England, and believe in celebrating and protecting them for current and future generations. Founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees “hold in trust,” and care for, 101 beautiful “reservations” located on 26,000 acres in 73 communities throughout Massachusetts. All reservations are open for the public to enjoy and range from working farms and historic homesteads – several of which are National Historic Landmarks – to formal gardens, barrier beaches, open meadows, woodland trails, mountain vistas, and a Gold LEED-certified green building in Leominster, the Doyle Center, which serves as a meeting space and gathering place for the conservation community.
Offering hundreds of programs, workshops, lectures, and activities throughout the year for all ages, most of which are free-of-charge or discounted for members, The Trustees are also a leader in the conservation movement and have served as a model for other land trusts nationally and internationally. With communities and conservation partners, The Trustees work to address and support important conservation issues and efforts across the Commonwealth. In addition, The Trustees hold conservation restrictions on more than 16,000 acres of privately owned land and, with our partners, have assisted in the protection of an additional 16,000 acres.
As land and special places continue to be developed and open space is being fragmented at a rapid pace across the Commonwealth, time is running out to save the best of Massachusetts’ landscapes and landmarks. To find out how you can protect or preserve a special place in your community, become a partner, request a speaker, and/or become a Trustee through your volunteer, donor or membership contributions, please call 781.784.0567, visit www.thetrustees.org, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.