Westford Conservation Trust Donates $8,000 to Help Conserve Salt Box Farm

Trust President Ron Gemma gives $8,000 check to WLPF board member Ellen Harde to help protect Salt Box Farm

Westford Conservation Trust voted to donate $8,000 to the Campaign to Conserve Salt Box Farm in support of the protection of open space in Westford. Please consider donating today to help with the protection and conservation of this very special property!

Salt Box Farm

The 52-acre Salt Box Farm on Hildreth Street in Westford Center is an iconic resource, and scenic views of the farm’s open meadow and hay fields are treasured by all who drive, walk or bike on Hildreth Street. Beyond the fields, the farm contains a variety of habitats including forested uplands, wetlands and a farm pond. The entrance to Westford’s Prospect Hill Conservation Area is across Hildreth Street. The Hildreth Hills Conservation land is located to the south, and 65 acres of Town conservation land, which is traversed by the Burns Hill trail, are to the north. Salt Box Farm connects these conservation areas. When protected, a new public trail will be constructed on the farm, beginning at land owned by the Westford Conservation Trust on Hildreth Street, where a small parking area could be created. Part of the fabric of the community for 250 years, Salt Box Farm is also valuable from a historic perspective; the saltbox style farmhouse was built circa 1660. It’s one of only two remaining 17th century homes in Westford, and is included in the Massachusetts Historical Commission Inventory.

The Opportunity

The owner of Salt Box Farm had been approached by developers interested in purchasing some or all of her land. Given the topography, wetlands and amount of frontage, preliminary land plans indicated that Salt Box Farm could be divided into 16 house lots off Hildreth Street, including the existing farmhouse. Fortunately, the owner preferred to see the property permanently protected if it was financially feasible. She offered the Town of Westford, in partnership with the Sudbury Valley Trustees and the Westford Land Preservation Foundation (WLPF), the opportunity to purchase a Conservation Restriction on the land. The CR will permanently protect 45 acres of the property from development. The owner will retain the remaining six acres with no restrictions, allowing the six acres to someday be subdivided into three lots.

The CR will permit some continued farming and grazing as well as forestry and other conservation uses. The view of the property from Hildreth Street would be permanently preserved via a scenic buffer. And a public trail connecting Hildreth Street to the Burns Hill trail would be built along the perimeter of the property.

Fundraising

The Conservation Commission and the Community Preservation Committee voted to support spending up to $1.13 million in CPA funds to purchase the CR and permanently protect Salt Box Farm.  At the Annual Town Meeting on March 24th voters approved that expenditure. In order to defray the cost to the Town, the non-profit WLPF has committed to raising $185,000 in private gifts and state grants.

 

Want to Help?

We are getting close to meeting our goal.

In the spring, the Westford Land Preservation Foundation had $50,000 to go in fund raising for Salt Box Farm, at which point we were offered a$20,000 matching gift for every resident gift received between April 1 and the finish line.

The $8,000 donation from the Conservation Trust + $20,000 in gifts between now and the end of August + The Match will help get us to our goal!

There are 8600 families in Westford. If just seventy-five of those families would send an average of $250 to the WLPF, PO Box 235 this week, we will have met our goal.

Please help conserve this beautiful property by making a tax-deductible gift to the Campaign to Conserve Salt Box Farm. Checks should be payable to the Westford Land Preservation Foundation and mailed to PO Box 235, Westford MA 01886. For more information email WLPF board member Ellen Harde at  39mainstreet@gmail.com.