Raspberry Farm, located on Route 84 in Hampton Falls, has been permanently protected thanks to a partnership effort of the NRCS, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the Town of Hampton Falls, the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, and the Rockingham County Conservation District.
More than 40 acres of the farm's prime agricultural land, forested habitat, and historic barn were to be razed for a subdivision last year. A developer owned the property and held permits for a 12-unit subdivision. Under the plan, a historic barn built in the early 1800s was to be demolished to make way for the houses and a road. Instead, the farm and its forested acres have been protected.
The NRCS contributed $630,000 of the $1.61 million needed to protect the property. Other funding sources included $855,000 from the Town of Hampton Falls Conservation Commission, and $120,000 from a private fundraising campaign led by the Hampton Falls Conservation Commission and the Trust for Public Lands.
The property has been actively farmed since the late 1700s and was known locally as the Raspberry Farm after a popular pick-your-own berries and retail farm stand which operated in the 1980s and early 1990s. The farm is located on Route 84, the American Independence Byway, one of New Hampshire's most scenic roads. The property is also a conservation priority for the state in both its Coastal Plan and also the Wildlife Action Plan. Located at the headwaters to the Taylor River, the land is just upstream from the Hampton Seabrook Marsh, home to critical shorebird habitat and New Hampshire's only clam beds.
"The Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program is geared to preventing our prime agricultural lands and places of historic significance from being developed," said Rick Ellsmore, New Hampshire State Conservationist. "The Raspberry Farm faced an imminent threat and we are pleased that we could be part of this great partnership that was able to save it." "NRCS staff worked closely with the project partners to complete the lengthy due diligence process in record time and to develop easement language that assures that the long term stewardship of the property will follow best management practices for farming and forestry," said TPL New Hampshire State Director, Rodger Krussman. Under the purchase agreement, the land will also be subject to a conservation easement, which the Rockingham County Conservation District (RCCD) will hold and manage, ensuring that Raspberry Farm can never be developed.