Stow Conservation Trust Projects
Model Conservation Restriction Document
(.pdf file)

About Protecting Land with Conservation Restriction (.pdf file)

Save Stow's Farms is a multi-year innitiative.
blooming apple trees with harrowed field in foreground

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

Save Stow's Farms Agriculture Preservation Initiative
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.

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 cider.

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:

Watch video

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

Save Stow’s 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:
Facebook page

History of Carver Hill ­ PowerPoint Presentation

small farm:
Facebook page

Edible Boston 2015 article
Edible Boston 2015 photos

WBUR Remembrance Project, Barbara Sipler, small farm, 2017

Heath Hen Corridor
We are continuing an effort to preserve more land along Heath Hen Meadow Brook.
  • Soliciting permanent conservation restrictions from private landowners who abut the Brook
  • Protecting sensitive stream and wetlands corridor
  • Increasing contiguous wildlife habitat with adjacent large collection of existing conservation land including Flagg Hill, Heath Hen Meadow Woodlands, and Shelburne Farm

Copyright © 1998-2020 Stow Conservation Trust

Last modified July 31, 2020

Stow Conservation Trust Web Administrator