EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 13, 2013

Georgetown awarded $95,000 federal grant

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — GEORGETOWN - A total of $95,000 in federal funds has been awarded for the acquisition of a conservation restriction on Wheeler Brook Farm protecting it from future development.

The money was awarded to the Essex County’s Land Trust by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, it was announced yesterday.

The federal monies along with $5,000 from the Davis Conservation Foundation completes Greenbelt’s fundraising goal, adding to $150,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding authorized by Georgetown voters at the Annual Town Meeting in May.

These funds allow the town and Greenbelt to jointly purchase a conservation restriction that forever ensures Wheeler Brook Farm will be preserved.

Set on 18 acres in an area under considerable development pressure, Wheeler Brook Farm is one of the last family farms in the area.

Owned and sustainably farmed by the Morehouse family for over 40 years, the property includes a popular self-service farm stand and pick-your-own berries.

Bob and Barbara Morehouse had approached Greenbelt seeking a way to preserve their farm from future development while allowing it to remain an active farm. After town CPA funds were approved, Greenbelt sought the balance of funding needed to purchase the restriction.

“This conservation restriction will permanently protect this family farm’s natural and agricultural resources and enable future generations to continue, and even expand, farm operations,” said Vanessa Johnson, Greenbelt’s Assistant Director of Land Conservation.

Abi Langsner, the Morehouses’ granddaughter, and her business partner Andrew Murray, are in their third season as farm co-managers and have expanded the farm stand.

“Farmland conservation has been an important component of Essex County Greenbelt’s land protection mission since its founding in 1961,” said Greenbelt’s Executive Director Ed Becker.

“As increasing development places unprecedented pressure on our local food systems, Greenbelt sees its role in preserving our region’s farms as more urgent than ever. Greenbelt is uniquely positioned to recognize these threats and to offer solutions, such as the use of CPA funding and special federal programs, that can help sustain a strong local agricultural base,” Becker said.

Since 1961, Greenbelt has been working with local individuals, families, farmers and communities to protect the farmland, wildlife habitat and scenic vistas of Essex County. Greenbelt has protected over 15,000 acres of local land and has had a direct role in 75 percent of all land conserved in the last decade.

For more information about Greenbelt properties and programs visit www.ecga.org or call 978-768-7241.