THE FOREST SOCIETY COMPLETES CONSERVATION EASEMENT ON SULLIVAN FARM IN NASHUA
NASHUA, N.H. (Dec. 11, 2019) —The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) closed today on a conservation easement to protect Nashua’s last remaining working farm. The 52-acre Sullivan Farm has been a long-time fixture in Nashua, dating back more than 100 years. Today’s closing marks a collaborative effort between the Forest Society, City of Nashua, the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), NH State Conservation Committee Land Conservation Grant Program (Moose plate), 1772 Foundation, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural Land Easement Program, as well as many local residents and businesses to complete the $1.4 million campaign to purchase this conservation easement.
Sullivan Farm has a long history in Nashua as a working family farm. Kathy Williams, owner of the property, and her family have farmed the land since 1911. Acquired by Williams’ grandfather, Joseph Sedlewicz, Sullivan Farm was used for dairy cows and vegetable farming. When her father, Leopold Sedlewizc, took over the farm from Joseph, he planted an orchard.
Today, the farm, with its familiar red barn, offers the community a farmstand, pick-your-own orchards, annual agricultural events and activities, as well as walking trails. The conservation easement protects the property from being developed and will keep the land as a working farm.
“With my family having farmed this land for more than a century, I wanted to ensure its protection while I still could,” said Williams. “It’s such a big part of our family history and of the fabric of this community. As agricultural land continues to disappear, I wanted to do my part to keep our farm from becoming just a memory.”
The City of Nashua used about $300,000 from its Conservation Fund to help preserve the property and another $213,000 it received from LCHIP.
“Sullivan Farm is Nashua’s last working farm and is very special to our city,” said Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess. “We are lucky to have a place in the heart of Nashua offering fresh, local produce grown by members of the same family for over 100 years – not to mention all the fun, family events and walking trails. Now, thanks to the tireless efforts of many individuals and groups, Nashua can keep this treasure for years to come.”
The conservation easement consists of agricultural lands, Coburn Pond, Lincoln Brook, wetlands and about 12 acres of forest. Agricultural land includes nearly three acres of cultivated cropland (mostly blueberries and vegetables), about 16 acres of orchards (primarily apple, with small orchards of peach and pear), 1 acre of pasture grazed by sheep and half an acre for flower beds and greenhouses. Coburn Pond (approximately 3 acres) provides a critically important source of water for irrigating crops. The forestland includes a stand of mature hardwoods, large red oak, sugar maple, hickory and white ash. Forested wetlands along Lincoln Brook and Coburn Pond provide storage and purification of drinking water, help remove carbon from the atmosphere, and mitigate periodic flooding, as well as provide a habitat for a number of wildlife species.
“This project demonstrates a real strength of the Forest Society in its land conservation work,” said Tom Howe, senior director of land conservation at the Forest Society. “We were able to bring together multiple partners, funding sources, as well as community resources to save this important property and community gathering spot. We also had a dedicated partner in Kathy Williams. Her patience and vision to protect this property never wavered, despite the complexity and time it took to complete our project. She no doubt had many other opportunities to sell the property, but she held to her vision of seeing this land protected.”
The NRCS Agricultural Land Easement Program provided the Forest Society with a grant of $650,000 to assist with the project. The program helps landowners, land trusts and other entities protect, restore and enhance wetlands, grasslands, as well as working farms and ranches through conservation easements. Through the sale of New Hampshire State Moose License Plates, the New Hampshire State Conservation Committee Land Conservation Grant Program provided a grant of $20,000. The grant program helps protect, restore and enhance the state’s most valuable resources. The 1772 Foundation works to ensure the safe passage of historic buildings and farmland to future generations. The foundation awarded the Forest Society $103,000 towards Sullivan Farm. The remaining funds were raised through generous donors and businesses. The NH Community Loan Fund also played a critical role in providing a short-term loan that helped Kathy Williams get through the longer-than-anticipated process leading to this recent closing.
ABOUT THE FOREST SOCIETY
The Forest Society is a private, nonprofit land trust and forestry organization established in 1901. It currently holds more than 750 conservation easements statewide permanently protecting more than 135,000 acres of New Hampshire’s landscapes. The Forest Society also owns 185 forest reservations constituting more than 56,000 acres in 105 New Hampshire communities.
About New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program
The New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program is an independent state authority created by the legislature in 2000 with a legislative mandate is to ensure the perpetual contribution of natural, cultural and historic resources to the economy, environment and quality of life in New Hampshire. LCHIP provides matching grants to New Hampshire communities and nonprofits to conserve and preserve the state’s most important natural, cultural and historic resources. Prior to the grant awards described herein, the program has provided 466 grants which have helped to conserve more than 290,000 acres of land for food production, water quality, ecological values, timber management and recreation and supported 280 projects to rehabilitate historic structures and sites. Grants have been awarded in all parts of the state and in 167 of New Hampshire’s 234 communities. Forty-six million dollars of state money has led to a total project value of more than $317 million. The money for LCHIP grants comes from fees on four documents recorded at the Registry of Deeds in every county of the state.
About Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Agricultural Land Easement Program
Over the past 25 year, NRCS has worked with landowners to protect more than 4.4 million acres of wetlands and agricultural lands, a value of over a billion dollars in a diversified real estate portfolio that has resulted in improved soil health, water and air quality and wildlife habitat. Read more about the easement successes around the nation.