Falmouth farm gets new lease on life

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FALMOUTH — The historic Hurricane Valley Farm will see new life as a site for community-based food production and education, the Falmouth Land Trust announced.

The land trust is leasing the 62-acre former horse farm on the west side of town to Cultivating Community, which plans to use it as a base for agriculture programs.

Cultivating Community, founded in 2001 in Portland, focuses on sustainable, ecologically friendly food production, with a specific goal of restoring the local food chain, according to its website.

The organization fulfills its mission by providing incubator farming opportunities, as well as managing community gardens and community growing spaces throughout the area. It also provides agricultural education to youth.

Under the agreement between the land trust and Cultivating Community, Hurricane Valley Farm will open in 2018. In the meantime, a master plan for the property will be developed through a community design process now underway.

The Resilience Hub is taking the lead in developing the plan and is expected to convene a series of gatherings with all the stakeholders, who will get a chance to provide input and share their vision for the farm, according to Jennifer Grimm, executive director of the land trust.

The ultimate hope is that the plan for the farm will “preserve and enhance the ecological health of the site for all to enjoy into the future,” she said.

This is the first time in its history that the land trust has dedicated a major property for sustainable agriculture purposes, Grimm said, and, under the lease agreement, Cultivating Community will be in charge of managing the farm and all the outreach programming, as well.

Cultivating Community and the land trust first laid out their plans for Hurricane Valley Farm when they jointly addressed the Town Council in mid-February.

At the time, Tommy Johnson, president of the land trust, called Cultivating Community the perfect partner.

This past winter he told the council that the goals of the land trust for the farm aligned perfectly with what Cultivating Community is all about, including the joint hope of keeping the farm as open space, while maintaining its agricultural character.

Cultivating Community signed the lease for the farm in July, according to a press release issued by the land trust this week.

“The preservation of such a beautiful, varied property for community-based food production and agriculture education is a great development for our region,” Craig Lapine, executive director of Cultivating Community, said in the release.

Grimm said, “We are excited about the ways this project will provide new benefits to our community, as well as support food security for our region. We believe Cultivating Community is an ideal partner in making the vision of community agriculture at Hurricane Valley Farm a reality.”

“Our goal as a land trust is to conserve and steward open space properties that protect natural resources and maintain the traditional character of our community, including its agricultural heritage,” Grimm said in the press release.

The farm is a “unique site (with) rolling terrain, tree-covered trails, wetlands, and an iconic barn,” the land trust said in the press release.

When the trust acquired the farm in 2015 it was one of the last intact farms within the town limits, the press release said, and was on the brink of being converted into a housing subdivision.

“The farm is one of the original homesteads on Route 100 (and) it was used for cultivation and animal husbandry for nearly 250 years (following) the hurricane of 1767,” the release said.

Along with leasing the farm from the land trust, Cultivating Community has also sought a variety of zoning amendments from the town in order to accommodate its development plans for the property.

Those plans include both produce and livestock trial programs, a retail store, a community garden, an orchard and a varied programming, Lapine told the Town Council in February.

“We have a wide array of activities that we’re proposing that are rooted in agriculture,” Lapine said, adding, “We are very much committed to making the farm an educational resource and a community asset.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

The historic Hurricane Valley Farm on the west side of Falmouth includes an iconic barn, as well as fields and woodlands.

Cultivating Community’s plans for the Hurricane Valley Farm in Falmouth include community-based food production.

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  • Steve Melchiskey

    “Last Intact Falmouth Farm”??? Define please. That is simply false