Proposals sought for Good Hill Farm
Updated 9:44 pm, Wednesday, March 11, 2015
The Roxbury Land Trust is issuing a request for proposals for one or more farmers to lease its Good Hill Farm Preserve starting in December.
The historic hilltop farm, at the intersection of Route 317 and Tophet Road on the Roxbury-Woodbury border, includes a large dairy barn, multiple sheds and other farm buildings, a cottage once used as a garden retail store, a five-bedroom farmhouse and 467 acres of agricultural land and woods.
"Our goal for Good Hill Farm is to have a sustainable farming operation leased to one or more independent operators," said Susan Payne, executive director of the Roxbury Land Trust.
For example, one farmer may wish to lease the farmhouse, smaller barns and some acreage for growing vegetables, while another farmer could want the fields for pasturing or hay, as well as the haymow for storage, she said.
"We will seek to balance our mission of encouraging active farming in our community with securing leases that help offset the cost of maintaining the farm," she said. "We are open to considering all proposals and are looking for the best use of the farm."
Kim Norris, associate director, who will spearhead the proposal process with the land trust's Farm Management Committee, said the trust "is often approached by both local farmers and those with farming experience in other areas of the country who are interested in Good Hill Farm.
"We have been keeping an active file of those who have expressed interest and welcome other inquiries," Norris said.
"Given the heightened interest in organic, sustainable and small family farms, as well as the `farm to fork' and locavore movements, the Roxbury Land Trust believes it is wise for us to explore options for Good Hill Farm, which could serve as an educational resource for surrounding schools," Payne said.
The Roxbury Land Trust acquired Good Hill Farm from Larry and Gloria Pond in 2003 as part of the Save our Farms Campaign with help from grants from the state's DEP Open Space and Watershed Acquisition Fund and Woodbury's open space fund.
At that time, the property was leased by two parties -- a landscaping and gardening business that operated at the site until 2012, and the current farmer, who has been farming the property since the 1970s for the Pond family.
Upon expiration of the lease, all prospects, including the farmer, will be considered so the land trust might explore all viable options.
Since the land trust acquired Good Hill Farm, the organization has invested in the upkeep of the farm and buildings, and improvements have been ongoing.
Orchards along the Woodbury border are being reclaimed through the help of a Natural Resources Conservation Service EQUIP grant.
A hiking trail has been built with a trailhead along Route 317, which connects a 720-acre greenbelt of land preserved by the Roxbury Land Trust.
In 2014, the Good Hill Farm Preserve was listed on the state Register of Historic Places by the Connecticut Historic Preservation Council.
The honorific designation means the property is eligible to receive state historic restoration fund grants.
Those interested in submitting proposals should obtain a package from the Roxbury Land Trust by calling 860-350-4148, emailing email@example.com, or downloading a form at www.roxburylandtrust.org and submitting it by May 1 at noon.