As of April 2017, 63 acres of farmland—stretching between South East Street in Amherst to the Norwottuck Rail Trail and the Lawrence Swamp Conservation Area—was permanently protected for agriculture.
“This stretch of farmland along South East Street has been a top priority for the Town of Amherst for decades. Foxcroft Farm was one of the last unprotected farms in town, and its permanent protection will create a contiguous block of preserved farms, which will help sustain the local agricultural productivity of Amherst,” said David Ziomek Assistant Town Manager/Director of Conservation and Development.
“The farm includes extensive frontage on the Norwottuck Rail Trail, popular for biking, walking and running. This protection project will ensure that the sweeping views toward the Mount Holyoke Range will be protected forever for everyone to enjoy,” said Kristin DeBoer, Executive Director of Kestrel Land Trust. “Kestrel was pleased to be able to invest our time and Rapid Response Funds to help conserve this special farm.”
“We could have not done this APR without the enormous help from Kestrel Land Trust. Kestrel was there with a steady hand and kept us on track. They truly care, and they are the experts!” said James Hoerle, the owner and operator of Foxcroft Farm.
The landowners are fond of all the wildlife found on the farm, and report spotting bobcat, kestrels, red-tailed hawks, bear, and many species of birds on their land. The farm’s location next to the Lawrence Swamp and Hop Brook add to the habitat value of the property.
The total project cost to acquire the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR), which purchases the development rights to maintain private agricultural land as farmland forever, is $732,600. Funding was secured from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), the US Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Town of Amherst’s Community Preservation Act Fund, and Kestrel Land Trust.
Now that this 63-acre APR is finalized, the landowner has expressed willingness to sell a Conservation Restriction to permanently protect their remaining 4-acre estate lot, which is actually an integral part of the farm. The first round of funding was insufficient to protect this last piece of the farm, which had been marketed for up to 6 estate lots earlier this year. The expected sale price for the 4-acre CR to complete the farm’s protection is $75,000 on a lot that has appraised for $290,000 fair market value due to its scenic location and proximity to protected land. Kestrel Land Trust and the Town of Amherst are initiating a fundraising effort in the coming months to complete this next phase of the project.
On May 2, Kestrel Land Trust will hold a walk and talk along the Norwottuck Rail Trail, to see the Foxcroft Farm, as well as other nearby conservation land, as part of Valley Gives Day. The public is welcome to meet Kestrel at the Station Road parking lot at Noon on Tuesday, May 2. Contributions to support this project are also welcome.