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Denise Barstow, Hadley

Growing up on a dairy farm in Hadley, land has always been an important part of my story. As a child, I watched my father and grandfather lay out maps on the kitchen table of farmland parcels, planning where to plant, what to plant, and what to rotate. My mother, sister, and I drove the family SUV down dirt roads and in back fields to bring dad lunch, and sometimes dinner, in the spring during planting and in the fall for harvest. Farmland in the Pioneer Valley has sustained my family for seven generations. In return, Barstow’s Longview Farm provides our community with fresh, local food, renewable energy, open space, and a connection to our New England heritage. Farmers are stewards of the land, and the Valley has a lot of us! Some farms have been caring for this land for over 200 years.

In comparison, Kestrel Land Trust is celebrating just 50 years of conserving and caring for land in the Pioneer Valley. (“Just 50,” she says!) Let’s be real: my land story wouldn’t be complete without my local land trust. Kestrel Land Trust doesn’t “just” conserve farmland, or forest land, or trails, or land for wildlife—they do it all!

Kestrel makes the Pioneer Valley more food secure, more climate resilient, more healthy, more wild, more beautiful. They are stewards of our Valley. Cheers to Kestrel for 50 years, plus 150 more to come!

Photo: Dolly the cow on pasture at Barstow’s Longview Farm in Hadley in October 2020.

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