Thanks to the commitment of the Dominican Sisters of Hope and a partnership of conservation organizations including the Dartmouth Agricultural Preservation Trust Fund, Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, Dartmouth Community Preservation Fund, and Farm Bureau Agricultural Preservation Corporation, an active 9-acre farm on Tucker Road in Dartmouth is now permanently protected from development with an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR).
The protected farm, which is currently operated as “Brix Bounty Farm,” includes a farmhouse, several farm buildings, and approximately 5.5 acres of prime farmland soils. In addition to conserving prime farmland soils, the APR will protect Dartmouth’s scenic landscape by limiting development along 550 feet of Tucker Road, a town-designated scenic road. The partners involved in the project expect that the lower cost of the farm (now that it has no more development rights), combined with its highly visible location on a well-travelled road, will make it financially viable for farming for many years to come.
The seeds for this conservation project were sown several years ago when the Dominican Sisters met with Dexter Mead from the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (DNRT) and Sue Guiducci from the Dartmouth Agricultural Preservation Trust Fund to ask for advice on how they could preserve their farmland for future generations. The two organizations each agreed to fund a third of the purchase of an APR and asked the Dartmouth Community Preservation Fund to provide a third. DNRT’s contribution came from private donations to its Farmland Preservation Fund, matched with a grant from The 1772 Foundation. The Farm Bureau Agricultural Preservation Corporation, which has experience with APRs throughout the state, was asked to hold and monitor the restriction. At the time of the closing of the APR, the contributions from these partners equaled half the value of the development rights. The Sisters agreed to waive the rest of the value as an expression of their commitment to the Earth and desire to leave a legacy in the community of Dartmouth.
“As Dominican Sisters we have committed ourselves to promote good stewardship of Earth and her resources in as many opportunities as we can,” said Sister Judy Brunell of Hope, who served as the liaison on behalf of the congregation. “We feel that the Dartmouth community benefits from having this land remain in active agriculture, and that there is a unique benefit to preserving this property that also provides affordable living for a farm family.”
Said DNRT’s Mead, “The Sisters’ strong interest in protecting their land was key to this project’s success. They not only agreed to a reduced price, but also gave us the time to bring together the partnership and the funding. We are all very thankful for what they have done.”
“This project was a great example of public, private, state and local organizations working together toward a common goal,” said Doug Gillespie, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation. “Preserving prime farmland in growing communities like Dartmouth is a key component of sustaining agriculture in Massachusetts.”
Guiducci added, “Because of the connections that often exist between small farms, such as lease agreements, partnerships and shared equipment, the protection of this farm land may also help the viability of other farmland in the area. This project is a model we hope we can duplicate.”