This year marks the completion of Mount Grace’s 5-year Farmland Inventory Project, which has helped us assemble a detailed picture of the state of agriculture in our region.
The project was born from discussions at one of the first meetings of the Greater Quabbin Food Alliance, when farmers and other community members singled out the need for a more detailed understanding of our region’s agriculture to inform strategies for farmland succession and farm conservation.
Our inventories studied each town to document the conservation status, products, development threats, community values, and soil quality of every farm in the region. This year’s inventories—in Gardner, Westminster, Hubbardston, and Ashburnham—bring the total to 22 of the 23 towns in our region––preliminary studies of Leyden revealed that an inventory was not needed thanks to a high percentage of town farmland already being conserved.
Starting conversations about farms and farming in each town also made it possible to hold estate planning workshops throughout our region. Farmers and farmland owners contacted during the inventories were able to learn about farm succession planning, estate and financial planning, forest management, and conservation. Participants were surprised by the findings from the inventories and eager to hear about new tools to keep their land open and productive.
The detailed information documented, and strong partnerships built through the inventory process have already helped guide new program strategies and will advance farmland conservation in all the towns we serve for years to come!