108 acres becomes protected farmland

  • Land off South Maple Street in Hadley has been conserved through the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program, the Franklin Land Trust said. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Friday, July 27, 2018

HADLEY — A large tract of farmland owned by the West family will be permanently protected as part of the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction program.

The Franklin Land Trust on Monday announced that the 108 acres, purchased for $500,000, is part of a growing collection of preserved land in an area of Hadley with views of the Mount Holyoke Range. The land parcel is located on South Maple Street south of Moody Bridge Road.

The West family has used the land as part of its Hartsbrook dairy farm since the mid-19th century.

Rich Hubbard, executive director of the Franklin Land Trust, said the trust was asked by the Wests, a family he has known for many years through land conservation work, to assist with the project.

“It’s so gratifying to realize this exceptional farmland is now conserved forever, and to have helped the Wests continue their dairy operation well into the future,” Hubbard said.

The land trust, which has conserved over 32,000 acres throughout western Massachusetts, provided two loans to the West family, totaling $36,000. These bridge loans helped the Wests to get through the past three years of the process.

Joyce West said in a statement issued by the land trust that she is happy the property will stay active farmland.

“Three years is a long time to wait and we couldn’t have done it without the Franklin Land Trust,” West said.

In 2006, about 114 acres of Hartsbook Farm, with frontage on South Maple Street, Bay Road and East Hadley Road, was placed into the APR program.

The latest preserved parcels join other land that will remain in agricultural use and properties that have become part of the Silvio O. Conte Natonal Fish and Wildlife Refuge, including a 31-acre span of grassland at the corner of South Maple Street and Moody Bridge Road that Kestrel Land Trust acquire from Eversource Energy this spring. The acquisition of that land, which is absorbed into the Fort River Division of the Conte Refuge, was covered by $680,000 from the Massachusetts Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.