The story of Sunset View Farm begins with the sale of wild blueberries picked by Chuck and Livvy Tarleton’s daughters almost 40 years ago. The 70-acre property borders route 140 on the Gardner-Winchendon line and with the thousands of commuters that pass by, it didn’t take long for the blueberries to sell out. Overtime the few baskets of blueberries for sale on a cart were eventually replaced by the iconic colorful farm stand where the Tarletons have been selling their fresh-picked, seasonal local produce including tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, and even maple syrup made in the farm’s sugar shack!
The property had been in active farming for over 200 years when Chuck and Livvy purchased it in the 1970s. In fact, the name Sunset View Farm originates from an old sign that was left in a shed by the previous farmers.
New England's farms are under threat: according to a 2017 farmland inventory, 71% of Winchendon’s farmland is not protected; and a recent study by the American Farmland Trust and Land for Good suggests that a third of Massachusetts farmers will retire in the next ten years.
Mount Grace has helped protect the 70-acre property to ensure it will always be operated as a farm. Mount Grace co-holds a CR with the North County Land Trust. An Option to Purchase at Agricultural Value (OPAV) held by Mount Grace means the next generation of farmers can purchase the land together with the house and other infrastructure at an affordable price – keeping Sunset View Farm a whole farm forever.
“After 40 years, we’ve come to realize how important it is for the surrounding communities to have a farm stand that values fresh, home grown produce. We hope that this tradition can continue far into the future thanks to Mount Grace’s stewardship.” Livvy Tarleton
The community support for the farm has been nothing short of remarkable; nearly 200 families and individuals contributed time and money to help keep Sunset View Farm the way it’s meant to be – a farm. We give special thanks to the customers of the stand, residents from nearby towns, supporters of local food and farm protection, close friends and family of Chuck and Livvy’s, and all those who stepped up to make a difference for the campaign. Whether it was spreading the word on social media, baking goodies for a fundraiser, making a special gift, or in Murdock Dairy Bar’s case donating ice cream; everybody contributed to make Sunset View Farm a whole farm forever.
As this conservation project closes, a new dawn rises for Sunset View Farm. The land, the active fields, the wetland habitat, the historical house, and the colorful farm stand will remain part of the landscape. Thanks to the outstanding support from the community, the legacy of fresh local food and farming will never set on Sunset View Farm.