Once a Farm, Always a Farm
EASTON – The owners of one of the most scenic farmsteads in Easton have ensured that their fields and forests will remain intact and undeveloped for future generations by donating a conservation easement on them to the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests (Forest Society), in collaboration with the Town of Easton.
Landowners and siblings Anna Darvid, of Easton, and Tonie Darvid, of Portsmouth, donated the easement covering 144 acres of land off Route 116, where Anna Darvid lives on the farm begun by her parents after they immigrated to the area from Europe. The easement means that the land will remain in private ownership and can be used for agricultural and recreational activities but can never be developed.
“The Forest Society’s mission is to protect New Hampshire’s most special places, and the Darvids’ property is truly one of those places,” said Jane Difley, the Forest Society’s president/forester. “This project is a model of how a community that values its heritage, generous landowners and a nonprofit land trust like ours can work together to conserve the natural assets that are so vital to our way of life here in New Hampshire.”
With the White Mountain National Forest as the backdrop, the Darvid farm is part of a well-known and loved view from NH Route 116, said Roy Stever, the chair of the Easton Conservation Commission. “This property could not be more central to the town. If you’re coming into town or heading out, you’re going to see this farm and the surrounding forest land against the background of North and South Kinsman mountains and the broad reach of the Easton Valley. It’s an incredible viewscape,” he said.
In addition to the scenic value, the Darvid land also represents the community’s heritage, Stever said.
“The early settlers came to the town and really built their lives around farming and the forest,” he said. “So here we have Anna Darvid, whose parents emigrated from Europe and they created this homestead that she maintains very much in the same spirit as her parents did. She’s a remarkable individual who is taking steps to preserve this land that is historic and aesthetically important.”
While the Darvids donated the easement’s assessed value, the Forest Society and the Town of Easton provided transaction and stewardship funds. Stever said Easton residents voted without objection to allocate $1,500 from the town’s Conservation Fund to support the project. The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust holds an executory interest in the conservation easement.
The Darvid land abuts land similarly conserved through an easement donated to the Forest Society by Ruth Ward and her daughter Kris Pastoriza, who is vice chair of the Conservation Commission. Together, the two properties create a corridor of protected land that stretches across Easton Valley and nestles against the White Mountain National Forest.
For landowners Anna and Tonie Darvid, protecting the land was a way to honor their parents, Stanley and Agnes Darvid, immigrants from Lithuania and Poland who bought the land after meeting and marrying in New Hampshire. They raised six children there, relying on the land for hay, firewood, livestock grazing and vegetable gardening.
“Our parents put their hearts and souls into this farm,” Anna Darvid said. “After all their hard work here, I didn’t want houses to be built on this land.”
Darvid wants the farm to remain a farm long into the future, no matter who may own it in decades to come. “I don’t care if they grow hay or potatoes or cows or sheep or whatever. As long as they don’t plant any houses,” she said.