OSI Loan Helps Secure Historic Great Meadow Farmland

Hadley, MA - May 8, 2009 - For the third time in four years, the Open Space Institute and The Kestrel Trust have teamed up to protect threatened farmland in the Connecticut River Valley of western Massachusetts.

Using a bridge loan from OSI’s Western Massachusetts Land Protection Fund, Kestrel acquired an agricultural preservation restriction (APR) that will preserve 12 acres of prime agricultural land in the historic Great Meadow, the first farming zone in the town of Hadley.

The parcel includes an old tobacco barn and has extensive frontage on Cemetery Road and the Norwottuck Rail Trail. Situated directly across from the town’s oldest cemetery and a rare remnant of 17th-century land-use patterns, it was a critical farm to secure for its historic and agricultural values.

OSI’s Western Massachusetts Land Protection Fund is part of its Conservation Finance Program, which provides short-term, low-interest loans to land trusts like Kestrel and other conservation organizations working to permanently protect working farms and forests. In Massachusetts alone, OSI has made loans of more than $3 million, protecting 1,381 acres of land since 2000.

“We applaud The Kestrel Trust and the citizens and farmers of Hadley for their diligence and commitment to conserving their agricultural and natural heritage. Thanks to their dedication, this fertile land provides the region and the nation with a wealth of benefits—fresh food, clean water and magnificent views. We are pleased to again assist The Kestrel Trust in its work to protect this singular resource,” said Jennifer Melville, OSI’s New England coordinator. 

 The parcel had been on the real estate market prior to Kestrel negotiating a conservation deal with the sellers. Kestrel will hold the APR until it is transferred to the state and town when state funding becomes available in June. Once it acquires another nearby APR that’s expected to close next month, the land trust will have permanently protected nearly half of the farmland in the Great Meadow since its efforts began there in 2004.

“We were pleased to work with all of these Hadley farming families to secure protection for such a good portion of the Great Meadow this year,” said Kristin DeBoer, the executive director of The Kestrel Trust.

“We look forward to working with additional landowners in the months and years to come in order to complete protection of the entire Great Meadow.”

“The Historic Commission is proud to be a part of this historic farmland project, especially during Hadley’s 350th anniversary,” said Marla Miller, co-chair of Hadley’s Historic Commission. “We are pleased that the town has consistently supported the preservation of the Great Meadow, which is such a central part of the town’s history.”

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