Protecting a Family Farm in Lee
Nestled in the northeast corner of Lee, New Hampshire, Tuckaway Farm is a beautiful three-generation family farm — more than 250 acres in all — “tucked away” along the Oyster River and protected by a conservation easement held by the town of Lee.
A popular destination, this certified organic farm offers everything from vegetables to fruits, livestock to poultry. The Cox family, which has owned Tuckaway for almost four decades, operates a farm store and CSA, hosts community garden plots, offers pick-your-own blueberries, and supplies many restaurants, markets and schools in the Seacoast area. They also offer educational programming with local schools, from kindergarten classes to university students.
When the family had the opportunity to purchase the adjacent 36-acre parcel they have leased for the past 38 years, they knew they wanted to conserve it as farmland forever. Now, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) is working with Dorn and Sarah Cox and their parents, Chuck and Laurel, to place a conservation easement on this addition to the farm.
To purchase the conservation easement and provide for transaction and stewardship costs, the Forest Society needed to raise a total of $293,000 -- and we are thrilled to confirm that we achieved that goal! More than 100 individuals contributed over $32,000 toward the goal, along with generous support from grant programs including the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, the state's Land and Community Heritage Investment Progam (LCHIP) and the DES Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund, and the Great Bay Partnership. Now we are simply finishing the real estate process and hope to celebrate the project's completion by the end of 2020.
Why is the protection of this 36-acre addition so important? Diligent and caring land stewards, the Cox family is working to protect the property for future generations. The conservation easement will support the continued use of the land as a scenic, working farm, and protect some of the state’s richest agricultural soils.
Located directly across the Oyster River from the Forest Society’s 192-acre Powder Major’s Forest Reservation, the 36 acres form a connected, undeveloped corridor that provides vital habitat for many wildlife species including otters, turtles and birds. The river itself provides breeding habitat for freshwater fish and fish that return to fresh water to spawn.
The addition will serve as a link to other conserved lands in a larger, 3-town greenbelt — part of a conservation initiative involving Lee, Madbury and Durham. And with more than 4,000 feet of frontage on the Oyster River, it will help safeguard an important source of drinking water for the town of Durham and the University of New Hampshire.
Tuckaway Farm is an exceptional place. The farm’s ongoing mission is to practice agriculture that builds soil, habitat and community. This 36-acre addition is a critical component of the farm’s operations.
Thank you for helping to ensure this adjacent property remains undeveloped forever, and help preserve the agricultural heritage of the community for you, your family and generations to come.