Westport's 107-Year-Old Wood Farm Bought by Town's Youngest Farmer
Westport, MA – The Trustees of Reservations and the Westport Land Conservation Trust today announced the future of farming in Westport has taken a step forward with the sale of a prime agricultural parcel to a local young man who will go from his high school graduation straight onto a tractor.
Andrew Orr, a senior at Westport High School, has always dreamed of making farming a career. Now, with his purchase of thirteen acres of the Wood farm parcel at the corner of Adamsville and Sodom Roads, his dreams will soon become a reality. For the past three years, Andrew has been grooming his career working on the Wood farm and helping to run its popular farmstand. Jim Wood, whose family has farmed the land since 1900, is retiring. Wood will, however, continue to provide Andrew with guidance, helping him pour over seed catalogs and plan for the upcoming growing season. “Farming has been my biggest interest since I was young,” says Andrew. “For me, this is the next wrung on the ladder, and I’m ready for the challenge.”
The Wood – now Orr – farmland was put under an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) earlier this year thanks to state funding and a substantial investment from the Town’s Community Preservation Fund (the Town now co-holds the APR). The land itself was purchased by a conservation partnership made up of The Trustees of Reservations and the Westport Land Conservation Trust using generous private donations from individuals in Westport. The goal of the private partnership was to make sure the land stayed in active agricultural use by purchasing it from the Wood family and then reselling it at its agricultural value to a local farmer.
Small, locally owned farms in Massachusetts are becoming a rare commodity as they face competition for land from real estate developers, and competition in the marketplace from large corporate farms around the globe. However, the demand for locally grown food is rising as more people discover the important nutritional, environmental, cultural and lifestyle benefits local farms provide.
“As the owner of five farms across the Commonwealth we are working hard to keep agriculture part of the Massachusetts landscape,” says Trustees of Reservations President, Andrew Kendall. “We were thrilled at the chance to help Andrew Orr fulfill his dream and help the residents of Westport keep a small but critical farm in operation.”
In many towns throughout Massachusetts The Trustees of Reservations have worked in partnership with the state’s Department of Agricultural Resources to help preserve family farms. Nowhere has that work been more successful than in Westport, where the partnership includes the Westport Land Conservation Trust and the town. Together, the groups have protected 13 farms in Westport over the past five years, including two dairy farms, two Christmas tree farms, an organic fruit and vegetable farm, a beef cattle operation, and even a piggery. There are now a total of 28 preserved farms in Westport, encompassing over 2,100 acres. Over 600 of these protected acres surround the Wood – now Orr – field.
The Trustees of Reservations have long supported protection of prime farmland throughout the Commonwealth, but they have recently become active in their own agricultural pursuits, opening a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program
at Appleton Farms
in Ipswich five years ago and another at Powisset Farm
in Dover this spring. At Long Hill
in Beverly, The Trustees also partner with The Food Project, an innovative program that brings urban and local youth together to grow produce for local farmstands and hunger relief organizations.
In Westport The Trustees have recently entered into an agreement to manage the Westport Town Farm on Drift Road. In addition to providing new public access to the property, they plan to actively manage the property as a farm for the benefit of the public, if the necessary town and private support can be secured. About The Trustees of Reservations
Founded in 1891, The Trustees of Reservations is the nation’s oldest regional land conservation trust and nonprofit conservation organization. Supported by more than 40,500 members, The Trustees protect Massachusetts’ natural and historic resources for everyone to enjoy. From working farms to historic homesteads, barrier beaches and mountain vistas, The Trustees own and manage nearly 25,000 acres on 96 reservations in 70 communities across Massachusetts, including five National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark, and seven properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Trustees also hold perpetual conservation restrictions on over 16,000 acres –more than any other conservation organization in Massachusetts – permanently protecting scenic and natural areas from development, and have assisted in the protection of over 16,000 additional acres.
In the fall of 2006, The Trustees formed a permanent affiliation with Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN), the city of Boston’s largest land trust and advocate for open space. Since 1977, BNAN has protected over 800 acres of urban wilds and created over 3 miles of greenways. BNAN currently owns 37 community gardens and provides services to all Boston’s 175 urban gardens. The affiliation is designed to accelerate efforts to acquire, protect and advocate for urban open space, while furthering both organizations’ commitment to promoting quality of life in the city of Boston and beyond.
The Trustees employ 150 full-time and 400 seasonal staff with expertise in many areas, including ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out how you can interview Trustees’ experts on important topics and issues, volunteer or become a member, please call The Trustees of Reservations at 781.784.0567, visit our website at www.thetrustees.org
, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
. About the Westport Land Conservation Trust
The Westport Land Conservation Trust is a private, non-governmental organization dedicated to local land conservation on behalf of the Westport community. Since its founding in 1972, WLCT has assisted landowners and worked with the town and the state to protect close to 3,000 acres of natural areas, farmland, and land open for passive recreation in Westport. The organization accepts gifts of land and conservation restrictions on land and assists farm owners in preserving farmland with agricultural preservation restrictions.