Press Release: Forest Society Purchases Conservation Easement on Morrill Farm Dairy in Boscawen

January 10, 2022
President Jack Savage speaks during the closing ceremony outdoors at Morrill Farm as the owners stand next to him.

Forest Society President Jack Savage speaks during the closing ceremony at the farm.

BOSCAWEN, N.H. (January 3, 2022) —The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) worked with the Town of Boscawen to purchase a conservation easement on more than 120 acres of high-quality farmland from Morrill Farm Dairy. The Morrill Farm Dairy has been in operation for nearly a century, founded in 1925, and is known for its red and white Holsteins. Today, the farm is operated by Robert and Sherri Morrill with their sons, Andy, Kevin, and Ryan.

Robert and Sherri Morrill hold a plaque between them during the closing ceremony at the farm.
Robert and Sherri Morrill (pictured) operate the farm with their sons, Andy, Kevin, and Ryan.

An award-winning farm, the Morrills milk 140 cows, with a total of 400 animals on the farm. Dairy cows are just one element of their farm operation. The property that is now under a new conservation easement is managed as cropland. The farm owns or leases over 500 acres of land in Penacook, Concord, and Boscawen on which they produce corn, hay, and small grains. The Forest Society already holds conservation easements on several other parcels of land either owned or leased by Morrill Farm Dairy.

Morrill Farm Dairy is part of the fabric of the local community. The family is involved with educational programs to help promote dairy and farming to the next generation.

“Our family has been caring for this land for four generations, we believe in being good stewards of the land,” said Rob Morrill. “We take pride in raising animals that provide safe, wholesome milk to our local community and families across New Hampshire. As farms shut down and houses are built on former cropland, people become more removed from their food sources. Agriculture is closely tied to conservation and land stewardship, and we are committed to conserving our land and being good neighbors. We are also committed to improving the quality of water for generations to come. We are very pleased this project is completed and we are moving on to other conservation projects.”

Ninety percent of the project is located within a priority focus area of the Merrimack Valley Regional Conservation Plan. The 125-acre conservation area is an important agricultural component of the Morrill Farm Dairy’s larger land holdings in the Capital Region. The fields on the conservation area are alternated between growing hay, corn, and a mix of other grains for non-dairy markets.

Members of the family sit at a table outdoors on the farm for the closing.
A ceremony was held in fall 2021 to celebrate the new conservation easement on the farm.
The agricultural fields also provide important open land habitat for ground nesting birds, woodcock, turkeys, and other species. The wildlife resources are enhanced by the over 1,800 feet of frontage on Little Pond and its 13 acres of open shrub wetlands. Little Pond is home to geese, ducks, herons, and other species that utilize its shallow marsh habitat. The property also provides public access for hunting and fishing.

“This project is located in an area with a high number of other active farms,” states Brian Hotz, vice president for land conservation at the Forest Society. “The land abuts the 144-acre Cummings Easement held by the town and the Town of Boscawen Conservation Commission is focusing on efforts on conserving additional farmlands.”

“Protecting valuable agricultural land is so important to our state and our country,” states Ian Rodgers, easement specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service in New Hampshire. “The Agricultural Conservation Easement Program helps keep working lands working. The protection of this land will allow the Morrill family to continue its tradition of farming for generations to come and we are thrilled to have played a role in that.”

Federal, state, and private donors came together to help conserve the more than 120 acres including the Town of Boscawen, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Services, the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, Merrimack Conservation Partnership, private donors, and a generous sale price by the Morrills.