Nearly 400 Acres of Farmland Protected in Exeter

Adams property is the second-largest protected farm in Rhode Island

The farm is in southern Exeter near the border of Richmond and South Kingstown. (DEM)

The farm is in southern Exeter near the border of Richmond and South Kingstown. (DEM)

By ecoRI News staff

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, The Champlin Foundation and the Rhode Island Agricultural Lands Preservation Commission, recently acquired the development rights to 369 acres in Exeter from Earl Adams.

Protection of the Adams property is the latest in Rhode Island’s ongoing efforts to permanently protect the state’s farmland to ensure this valuable asset remains available for agriculture. Since 1985, 111 farms spanning 7,888 acres have been protected by the Rhode Island Agricultural Lands Preservation Commission.

Located in southern Exeter near the border of Richmond and South Kingstown, the property is the second-largest protected farm in the state, after Tuckahoe Turf Farms Inc. in Richmond. A farmhouse and barn are on Glen Rock Road, and the property also has frontage on Gardiner Road and Hog House Hill Road. The farm contains more than 200 acres of prime farm soil, nearly all of which is currently used for hay production.

The property’s focal point is an iconic and impressive 90-acre hay field that provides sweeping views of the rest of the farm and its surrounding forestland. The remaining land includes pasture, woodland, scattered wetlands, and two major tributaries to the Queen’s River, one of the cleanest and coldest rivers in Rhode Island and one of the most pristine rivers in southern New England, according to DEM.

The river supports wild brook trout, several rare dragonflies, and an abundance of freshwater mussels.

Adams had previously conserved 66 acres of his farm, selling a conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy in 2004. Abutting the farm to the east is the Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s Eppley Wildlife Refuge – 1,225 acres of protected forest, streams, and white cedar wetlands that protect hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife.

The $3.34 million acquisition from Adams protected this large tract from development in perpetuity. The state of Rhode Island provided $1.14 million through farmland bond money. The funding package included an additional $1.2 million set aside by Congress for land protection in the Queen’s River watershed, and a $1 million provided by The Nature Conservancy, with funding from The Champlin Foundation, the 1772 Foundation, the Bafflin Foundation and individual donors.