Conserving 115 acres of Agricultural Land
The Forest Society is working together with the Town of Boscawen to purchase a conservation easement on 115 acres of high-quality agricultural land on Long and Water Streets in Boscawen from the Morrill family. The Morrill Dairy Farm has been in operation for nearly a century and is now owned by Rob and Sherri Morrill and their sons, Andy, Kevin, and Ryan, and daughter Kim. The family works together on the farm.
The farm was founded in 1925 in Penacook, New Hampshire and has won several national awards and is well known for its red and white Holsteins. Currently, the Morrills are milking 140 cows and have a total of just over 500 cows on the farm. The farm owns or leases over 1,000 acres of land in Penacook, Concord, and Boscawen on which it produces corn, hay and other grains. Beyond the dairy operation the family shows dairy cattle at events and auctions.
The family also runs a successful feed business, selling forage to other dairies in the area. The Forest Society already holds conservation easements on several pieces of land either owned or leased by Morrill Dairy Farm.
The 115-acre property is an important agricultural component of Morrill Dairy Farm’s larger land holdings in the Capital Region. As with all dairy farms, there is always a concern over fluctuating milk prices and the one asset the farm has is its land. This land, while not now contemplated for sale, would be the first for the family to consider selling if the financial need arose. The land is dry, with nearly a mile of road frontage and has outstanding views of Mt. Kearsarge. It is a highly developable property.
Sixty-five percent of the land is utilized for agricultural production, with over 90 percent of the project falling within the priority focus area of the Merrimack Valley Regional Conservation Plan.
Water and Wildlife—The agricultural fields and brushy edges provide a multitude of important open land habitat for ground nesting birds, woodcock, turkeys, and other species that need large open fields. The land’s wildlife resources are greatly enhanced by over 1, 800 feet of frontage on Little Pond and its associated 13 acres of wetlands. Little Pond is home to numerous geese, ducks, herons and other species that utilize its shallow marsh habitat.
Recreational Access—Currently, the public uses the property for hunting and fishing. The wetlands surrounding Little Pond is a favorite duck hunting location for local hunters. Ice fishermen will also access Little Pond through the property in the winter. The conservation easement will guarantee this public use of the land.
Connectivity—The property is located in an area with a high number of other local farms and abuts the 144-acre Cummings Easement held by the town. There are other potential farm properties nearby interested in exploring conservation easements as well. The Town’s Conservation Commission is focusing its efforts in this area to conserve farmland.
Please join us in making this conservation vision a reality!
The Forest Society has already secured $391,000 towards the overall fundraising goal of $408,000 for this project. A grant of $166,000 was awarded from the NRCS Agricultural Easement Program on June 21, 2019. Additionally, the Town of Boscawen’s Conservation Commission committed $130,000 to the project on April 16, 2019. The Merrimack Conservation Partnership awarded $10,000. The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) awarded $85,000 to the project on December 4, 2019. The Forest Society is looking to raise the additional $17,000 to purchase the easement and cover the project and stewardship expenses. Your contribution will help us to protect this critical link of farmland in New Hampshire.