By ecoRI News staff
DARTMOUTH, Mass. — The Buzzards Bay Coalition and its partners, the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust and Round the Bend Farm, recently celebrated the permanent protection of 115-acre Ocean View Farm on Allens Pond, the largest land conservation project ever completed along the coast of Buzzards Bay.
Completed this past 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 of 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,” Buzzards Bay Coalition president Mark Rasmussen said. “But the fate of one landholding on the pond still threatened this landscape’s extraordinary agricultural and natural values. 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.”
Ocean View Farm 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,” Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (DNRT) executive director Dexter Mead said. “Without the remarkable support of so many public and private donors, we never could have accomplished our goal.”
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.
“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.”
The Buzzards Bay 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.
During the past year, the coalition spearheaded assembly of a patchwork of federal, state and local government funding and 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.
“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. “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 project was also 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 Buzzards Bay Coalition and DNRT are seeking $70,000 in private donations to complete the project.