Buzzards Bay Coalition, Officials Celebrate Protection of 115 Acres of Coastal Farmland in Dartmouth
DARTMOUTH — The Buzzards Bay Coalition and its partners the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (DNRT) and Round the Bend Farm today welcomed representatives from the federal government, state government, the town of Dartmouth and local residents to celebrate the permanent protection of 115-acre Ocean View Farm on Allens Pond, the largest land conservation project ever completed on the coast of Buzzards Bay.
Completed this summer, the protection of Ocean View Farm was an $8.1 million component of a larger land conservation initiative on Allens Pond, which has been recognized as one southern New England’s most significant coastal habitats. The larger Allens Pond Conservation Completion Project is expected to protect an additional 100 neighboring acres of forests, wetlands and active farmland.
“Visionary landowners and conservation organizations have worked together over decades to protect and preserve Allens Pond. But the fate of one landholding on the pond still threatened this landscape’s extraordinary agricultural and natural values,” said Buzzards Bay Coalition President Mark Rasmussen. “Ocean View Farm narrowly missed being covered with new homes, roads and septic systems several times in recent years. With the support of so many levels of government and generous neighbors coming together to raise the money needed to save this place, this jewel of Buzzards Bay will now be protected forever.”
The nonprofit Coalition worked in close partnership with DNRT and Round the Bend Farm to permanently conserve Ocean View Farm, which was one of the last undeveloped and unprotected areas of coastal farmland on Buzzards Bay.
“Ocean View Farm had long been one of the top conservation priorities in the town of Dartmouth due to its large size, prime location, outstanding agricultural land and abundant natural resources,” said Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust Executive Director Dexter Mead. “Without the remarkable support of so many public and private donors, we never could have accomplished our goal.”
“Our mission is to create a restorative community. The newly acquired 55 acres will bring our farm to 94 acres; expand our realm into focused, sustainable food production; and increase our impact on providing nutritious food for people of all socioeconomic demographics,” said Desa Van Laarhoven, Executive Director of Round the Bend Farm. “On this land, we intend to cultivate a community that is diverse in race, gender and culture. Our vision is opening this land to a new generation of farmers, specifically targeting women and people of color, those who have historically worked the land but have been locked out of long-term leasing and ownership. In creating equitable access to agricultural opportunities, we hope to demonstrate a form of healing for social and environmental systems.”
Round the Bend Farm will put the deep, rich soils on the northern 55 acres to work as an all-organic farm and DNRT will eventually open a new public trail on a 60-acre waterfront portion of Ocean View Farm so members of the public can discover the land’s magnificent views and abundant wildlife.
“I’m very glad that Ocean View Farm will receive permanent protection so that it will be there for our kids and for our grandkids,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “It’s great news for the South Coast and for the Commonwealth, and I thank the Buzzards Bay Coalition, the town of Dartmouth, local residents and community partners for their efforts to make this a reality.”
“Between Horseneck Beach State Reservation and Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, this area of Dartmouth has a well-deserved reputation for the preservation of its natural beauty,” said Congressman Bill Keating. “By incorporating this final tract of land along Allens Pond, citizens of our region will be able to enjoy both this area and the local organic produce to come from the farm for generations to come."
The Coalition holds a permanent conservation restriction on the northern portion of the farm and co-holds a conservation restriction on the southern portion along with the Dartmouth Conservation Commission, ensuring that this land will never be developed.
Over the past year, the Coalition spearheaded assembly of a patchwork of federal, state and local government funding as well as private fundraising to protect this land for future generations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the project nearly $2 million, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provided $1.1 million through a National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant and a North American Wetland Conservation Act grant.
“Protecting working agricultural lands and prime farmland soils like those at Ocean View Farm has many benefits for the Commonwealth and the Nation,” said Christine Clarke, Massachusetts State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. “Funding provided through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program will help prevent conversion of this productive working land to non-agricultural uses and has the added benefit of supporting the ecologically sensitive coastal environment.”
"Public-private partnerships are essential in protecting the nature of our nation's coastal wetlands,” said Mark Cookson, regional coastal program coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided $2.7 million in funding to protect the area around Ocean View Farm and Allens Pond marshes as part of this collaborative effort at Buzzards Bay. These marshes provide us with clean water, and are important areas for wildlife including the federally endangered roseate tern."
Last fall, Dartmouth residents voted to contribute $600,000 in Community Preservation Act funding to save 60 acres of Ocean View Farm. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation also provided the project with a $400,000 grant.
“The Baker Polito Administration, through the Department of Conservation and Recreation, is proud to support important land conservation initiatives that enable generations of people to enjoy and benefit from,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “By providing $400,000 in funds towards the protection of the 115-acre Ocean View Farm, Massachusetts is continuing its long, rich history of land conservation efforts that will preserve critical ecosystems and habitats for flora and fauna, while simultaneously providing outdoor recreational opportunities with the creation of a new public trail.”
The project was supported by more than $2.92 million in private donations from 365 individuals and families. The Bromley Charitable Trust also contributed $2 million to the project in support of Round the Bend Farm. The Coalition and DNRT are still seeking $70,000 in private donations to complete the project.
To learn more about the Buzzards Bay Coalition and land conservation on Buzzards Bay, visit www.savebuzzardsbay.org.
--Buzzards Bay Coalition