Many of the old family farms in the fast-growing Town of Weare have been subdivided and converted to house lots over the past two decades. However, this will not be the fate of the 68-acre farm belonging to Charles and Sylvia Brown, which was recently placed into a conservation easement with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.
“The Browns have been exceptionally patient throughout this long process,” said Forest Society President/Forester Jane Difley. “It’s clear that Charles and Sylvia felt strongly about keeping their land in agriculture.”
This local landmark is cherished by Weare residents for the sweeping views across its open hay fields. One of the town’s last and oldest family farms, the Brown farm has been around for more than 200 years; the homestead was built in the 1770s.
“We enjoy the view and we enjoy the land,” said Charles Brown. “We didn’t want to see houses growing in that field.”
Charles Brown’s father ran the property as a dairy farm from 1938 to 1957, when Charles too over the family business. He continued to run the dairy business until 1990. Now he grows and cuts hay and leases out some of the fields.
The property not only contains important farm soils, but it also overlies an aquifer that supplies several private wells in the Weare village center. In addition, the property’s woods and wetlands provide important habitat for many types of animals that need large areas of open space, and it is close to the Melvin Valley area – a local conservation priority.
The total value of the conservation easement was almost a half million dollars. Charles and Sylvia Brown donated $124,000 in easement value, and the balance of funding came from a combination of public and private sources.
Because of the farm’s important agricultural soils, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service contributed $310,000 toward the purchase price of the easement. The Town of Weare contributed $134,000 and will hold an executory interest in the easement. The Russell Foundation provided $24,000, and the Mildred Hall Trust, a local charitable foundation, contributed $24,000 plus transaction expenses. Finally, the Forest Society’s Land Action Fund provided $4,000 to close an eleventh-hour funding gap, allowing the project to proceed.