April 2013: CPA funds have helped to conserve the Historic Elmwood Farm in Hopkinton, protecting farmland for future agricultural use, preserving an historic stop on the Underground Railroad and opening up 81 acres of forestland to the public.
A family farm for more than 200 years, Elmwood Farm is the original home of Food for the Needy, a local organization founded by Bill and Rose Abbot in the 1970’s. In 2002, Food for the Needy evolved into the Community Harvest Project (CHP), a volunteer farming operation dedicated to hunger relief in Worcester County.
In February 2013, in collaboration with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and The Trust for Public Land, the town of Hopkinton permanently protected the historic 92-acre Elmwood Farm. Funding for the project included $900,000 of CPA funds as well as a $400,000 Massachusetts Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (LAND) grant, $90,000 in private foundation funding, and the proceeds from the private sale of the Fitch-Adams House. Although the 10.75 acres of open land around the farmstead will be permanently protected by a Town-held Conservation Restriction, agriculture will be allowed and encouraged. Bill and Rose Abbot’s home, the historic Fitch-Adams House, has been sold to a new owner subject to a Preservation Restriction Agreement held by the Hopkinton Historical Commission. The house is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and is an important piece of Hopkinton history, having once provided refuge for escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad.
The Town of Hopkinton will open the 81 acres of forestland to the public for non-motorized recreation on the many existing trails and cart paths that extend throughout the property. Chris LaPointe, senior project manager at The Trust for Public Land, comments that “Elmwood Farm exemplifies the goals and the spirit of the Community Preservation Act. We have helped to protect Hopkinton’s sense of place – the natural, historic, and cultural landscape that makes this community what it is. The Trust for Public Land is pleased to have been able to play a role in shepherding this property to the next chapter in its history.”
Organizations like The Trust for Public Land, Mass Audubon, and the Trustees of Reservations, all Coalition partner organizations, can help cities and towns protect open space by providing a wide array of technical services associated with complex real estate transactions. Additionally, these organizations offer private landowners a degree of expediency and confidentiality not usually available through municipal boards.