Jennifer Dubois, South Coast Conservation Director
The Trustees of Reservations
Chris Detwiller, Westport Community Conservation Specialist
The Trustees of Reservations
Peggy Stevens, Executive Director
Westport Land Conservation Trust
Westport, MA – May 24, 2011 – The Trustees of Reservations and Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) are delighted to announce that the Oscar Palmer Farm, located at 138 Adamsville Road in Westport, has been sold to Laurie Marinone and Norman Anderson. The farm was sold for $250,000. The property is subject to permanent historic and conservation restrictions that will ensure the farm is kept in active agriculture and that the historic buildings are restored and maintained. Laurie and Norm are Westport residents who are committed to agriculture and historic preservation. They currently live off of Briggs Road.
Since acquiring the farm in 2008, The Trustees have worked closely with the Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT), Westport’s Community Preservation Committee, the Agricultural/Open Space Preservation Trust Fund Council, the Agricultural Commission and other community members to develop a common vision for protecting the farm’s historic, natural and agricultural resources. Additionally, The Trustees and WLCT convened an advisory committee to hone the vision and to help develop a public resale process to find a buyer to implement that vision. The Trustees and WLCT then convened a local review committee with combined expertise in conservation, agriculture and historic preservation to review the proposals. The review committee recommended the bid proposal that best fit the community vision and criteria. Laurie and Norm were one of four proposals submitted in response to this public request. Their proposal was selected based on demonstrated commitment, experience, and ability to both implement an active, diverse agricultural operation and to restore and utilize the historic buildings.
“The Trustees believe that Massachusetts’ farms are vital to the health and sustainability of our communities. The joint effort between The Trustees, Westport Land Conservation Trust and Town to protect the Oscar Palmer Farm exemplifies this belief,” said Andy Kendall, President of The Trustees of Reservations. “Working together, we have created a community vision for protecting this iconic farm and now we have found an excellent buyer to carry out that vision.”
The buyers are equally pleased. According to Laurie and Norm, “We are excited to begin work restoring the buildings and expanding our agricultural operation. The Palmer Farm is a significant part of Westport’s landscape and we are grateful for being entrusted with its stewardship and care.”
The base of their farm operation will be a herd of Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats, to provide milk for sale and to create an artisanal farmstead cheese operation. They also have plans for raising other livestock including laying hens for eggs, meat chickens, and beef cows. They plan to grow berries and other fruit for pies, jams, and jellies intended for limited sale on the farm. The building restoration will start with the house, which will become their residence, and the barn, which will serve a multiple purposes. The main space will be used for a farm store, the loft will store hay and the ground level on the south side will house animals. Laurie and Norm are excited about the farm being a part of the fabric of the local community and look forward to welcoming the public to purchase their farm products, visit the animals, and/or to simply experience the historic farmstead. They plan to hold open houses, farm tours, and classes once they and their animals move on-site and their farm store opens.
The Westport Historical Commission was also an invaluable partner with this project. “It was a very positive experience to work with the Trustees of Reservations, WLCT and their team of conservation and preservation experts to ensure the preservation and protection of the Oscar Palmer Farm for future generations,” said Geraldine Millham, Westport Historical Commission Oscar Palmer Farm Sub-Committee member. “Balancing the needs of the 18th century farmstead with those of future farmers was a priority. We are confident that the new owners will honor the farm’s history and place in Westport’s agricultural heritage, as they take on the restoration of the buildings and revitalization of the land for a modern agricultural operation.”
The Palmer Farm is surrounded by over 500 acres of protected farms, forest and open space along Adamsville Road. With a quarter mile of stone walls stretching along Adamsville Road, this historic farm has been a priority for protection for more than ten years. The Town of Westport, through various boards and committees, has been involved extensively in the efforts to protect the farm during this time.
“The Community Preservation Committee is thrilled to see the conclusion of this multi-year effort put forth by the Town and our partners, “ said Warren Messier, co-chair of the Community Preservation Committee. “It is gratifying to know that the farm’s buildings, walls and fields along a highly traveled and scenic road will be forever preserved and utilized for farming.”
The Trustees and WLCT have worked closely with Town boards and committees for the past two years to design restrictions that met the vision for protecting and restoring the farm. The conservation restriction, covering the entire property, protects public resources such as prime farmland soils, wetlands and scenic resources. It requires that the property be farmed and permits additional farm buildings in designated areas. The historic preservation restriction ensures that the buildings be preserved, restored, and maintained while allowing the future owner to determine their use.
“A key element of this project’s success has been the many voices that have contributed to our mutual understanding of what this property means to the Town of Westport and how it can continue to be part of our Town’s story going forward, “ said Land Trust Executive Director Peggy Stevens. “The community has come together to ensure the Palmer Farm will continue to tell stories of Westport’s agricultural heritage – past, present and future.”
The Trustees of Reservations acquired the 29-acre farm for $901,000 with support from WLCT. The Trustees and WLCT raised private funds and the Town of Westport committed $250,000 through its Agricultural/Open Space Preservation Trust Fund. Additionally, voters at the 2008 Town Meeting approved $200,000 from the Community Preservation Fund to preserve and rehabilitate the historic buildings. $29,500 of the Community Preservation Funds have been used for the historic preservation restriction, allowing the future owner to apply directly to the Community Preservation Committee for the remaining funds to help offset their financial investment in building restorations.
All future owners must adhere to the historic preservation and conservation restrictions. WLCT and the Town of Westport’s Conservation Commission hold the conservation restriction on the entire farm and The Trustees of Reservations and the Town of Westport’s Historical Commission hold an historic preservation restriction over the buildings.
“Like so much of our town, the Palmer Farm is irreplaceable. To think we can keep everything the way it is, or was, is not realistic. But if we focus on our treasures one at a time and go to bat for them, we are going to bat for our children and the future of Westport, “ said Barbara Hanley, former chairwoman of the Agricultural/Open Space Preservation Trust Fund Council. “The Trustees of The Reservations has been a critical partner in this effort, bringing expertise and commitment to ‘saving the irreplaceable. For everyone. Forever’.”
More about the Partnership between the Westport Land Conservation Trust & Trustees of Reservations
Development pressure on Buzzards Bay watershed is among the most intense in Massachusetts, putting our farms, forests and open spaces increasingly at risk. In 2001, The Westport Land Conservation Trust and The Trustees of Reservations joined forces and committed to a goal of significantly increasing the pace of local conservation work in Westport. Over the past nine years, they have worked with landowners and partnered with the Town, Commonwealth and other land conservation organizations to protect nearly 1,900 acres of open space in Westport.
More About The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees are 100,000 members 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, 105 spectacular “reservations” located on more than 26,000 acres in 75 communities throughout Massachusetts. All Trustees’ 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 gathering place for the conservation community.
Accredited by the Land Trust Alliance, The Trustees are an established leader in the conservation movement and model for other land trusts nationally and internationally. In addition to its many reservations spanning 26,000 acres, The Trustees also hold perpetual conservation restrictions on more than 19,000 additional acres (a total larger than any other conservation organization in Massachusetts), and have worked with community partners to assist in the protection of an additional 16,000 acres around the Commonwealth. To find out more and/or become a member, please contact www.thetrustees.org.
More about the Westport Land Conservation Trust
Since its founding in 1972, the Westport Land Conservation Trust has assisted landowners in protecting more than 3,600 acres in Westport, Massachusetts. WLCT is a private non-governmental organization dedicated to local land conservation on behalf of the Westport community. The organization accepts gifts of land and conservation restrictions on land, and assists farm owners in preserving farmland through agricultural preservation restrictions.