Town of Stow Awarded $275,000 for Carver Hill Orchard Protection
The Stow Conservation Commission and Stow Conservation Trust (SCT) are ecstatic to announce that the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs has just awarded the Town of Stow’s Conservation Commission a $275,000 grant toward the protection of Carver Hill Orchard. These funds have been made available through the state LAND grant program, which helps cities and towns acquire land for conservation and passive recreation purposes.
This grant, combined with Community Preservation Funds approved by Stow Town Meeting in May 2017, more than $300,000 in individual and foundation gifts raised through SCT’s Save Stow’s Farms initiative, and a generous discount from the Lord family, completes fundraising for the Carver Hill Orchard protection effort. The permanent Conservation Restriction protecting Carver Hill is expected to be finalized in June 2018.
Bob Wilber, President of Stow Conservation Trust, expressed thanks on behalf of SCT to the hundreds of residents of Stow and beyond who contributed to this success, and noted that the Trust’s efforts to protect Stow’s important working farms will continue through the Save Stow’s Farms initiative. Kathy Sferra, Stow Conservation Coordinator, who received the call from EOEA officials this week, said it was the best news the effort could have hoped for.
“This was our bottom of the 9th inning, grand slam home run,” said Sferra.
An event celebrating Carver Hill’s protection will occur in early summer 2018.
For more information contact: Kathy Sferra, Stow Conservation Coordinator, 978-897-8615
Bob Wilber, President, Stow Conservation Trust, 781-259-2155
SCT’s private fundraising campaign to protect key farms in Stow, including Carver Hill Orchard and small farm,
is now in full swing, following the passage of significant CPA funding at Town Meeting.
In 2017, the Stow Conservation Trust
(“SCT”) launched a major, multi-year land protection effort called “Save Stow’s Farms.” The goal is to protect as many of Stow’s farms as possible from future development by purchasing permanent land-use restrictions while
keeping farms in private ownership
and promoting their continued use in
Agriculture is among Stow’s defining features, a legacy from Colonial days. With a rebirth of farming in recent years throughout New England, Stow is particularly fortunate to have an active agricultural base. While not readily apparent, Stow’s
farmland is also highly vulnerable.
Its flat, well-draining fields and
frontage on public ways make it highly
desirable for development.
Keeping Stow’s farms from becoming residential subdivisions will benefit Stow in many ways. Farms are an essential part of Stow’s
rural character. They not only produce
fresh local fruits, vegetables, and
flowers, but they also provide scenic
vistas, open space, wildlife habitat,
recharge areas for our precious aquifers,
and even jobs. Moreover, farms pay
taxes while demanding very little in
the way of costly community services.
Each classroom, in every Stow school,
has a few less kids for the simple
reason that our farms have not been
converted to subdivisions.
A Conservation Restriction is a tool
widely used by public and private conservation
organizations to extinguish the development
potential of a property, while keeping
it on the tax rolls and in continued
private ownership. Since a Conservation
Restriction is a land-use restriction
in perpetuity, which permanently reduces
the fair market value of the land,
future farmers are able to purchase
protected farms at affordable terms a
key component of the future economic
viability of farming.
Carver Hill Orchard and small farm
As a first step in SCT’s Save Stow’s Farms
initiative, we now have an exciting opportunity
to conserve two important local farms. Carver
Hill Orchard is tucked away along Elizabeth
Brook next to the Town Forest and is known for its
iconic apple and peach orchards, row crops, and fresh-pressed
For decades, small farm (lowercase intentional), on Gleasondale Road, has been a local favorite for pick-your-own flowers and produce. Together, these farms comprise more than 100 acres.
The farmers themselves are deserving of our thanks
because they are both doing their part to make their
farms’ permanent protection a reality. The Lord family, which has operated Carver Hill Orchard for more than 150 years, and Dwight Sipler, small farm’s
dedicated owner, have generously offered to sell Conservation
Restrictions on their farms to SCT and the Town at
discounted prices, and at a fraction of what they would
reap by developing their land.
Under our Save Stow’s Farms initiative,
the Conservation Restrictions on these farms will be
jointly held by the Town and SCT. While the development
value of the two farms is $4.7 million or more, we
have the opportunity to permanently protect them by
purchasing these two Conservation Restrictions for
only $2.3 million! $1.675 million of that will be funded
using a portion of the funds currently in the Town’s Community Preservation Fund. Warrant articles authorizing this were overwhelmingly passed by Stow Town Meeting voters at this year’s
Annual Town Meeting (thank you Stow voters!).
The remaining $625,000 must be raised in one year through grants and private fundraising so that we can complete the purchase of these Conservation Restrictions by June of 2018.
These farms will not be protected unless all necessary funding has been secured. The
public’s contributions will play a critical role in
this campaign. NOW is the time to donate. Please give
generously. Just click on the DONATE button below.
To learn more about these projects, please watch the video
we produced for our Save Stow’s Farms project, describing
Carver Hill Orchards and small farm:
Please help Stow maintain its farming heritage for our community and beyond, ourselves, and future generations. We ask for your generous donation now towards our
Farms initiative to help SCT protect Carver Hill Orchard,
small farm, and other farms in Stow that are at risk
of being lost forever through development. Thank you
for your contribution to this important effort!
More information about Carver Hill Orchard and small farm:
Brochure on Carver Hill and small farm
"The Way Life Should Be"
Carver Hill Orchard:
History of Carver Hill PowerPoint Presentation
Edible Boston 2015 article
Edible Boston 2015 photos
WBUR Remembrance Project, Barbara Sipler, small farm, 2017