- Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Announces Permanent Protection of 165 Acres of Farmland in Berkshire County
Craig Gilvarg, Press Secretary
Boston — The Baker-Polito Administration announced today the acquisition of 165 acres at Springstube Farm in West Stockbridge through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) program in collaboration with the Berkshire Natural Resource Council and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The APR program allows Massachusetts farmers to permanently protect their land from development.
“As we respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and focus on strengthening our food security in Massachusetts, it is more important than ever that we take steps to protect valuable farmland and ensure the resilience of our agricultural economy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The APR program seeks to prevent activities that will negatively impact the future agricultural viability of land, and we are proud to work with our partners to ensure this farm continues to produce fresh, local food for generations to come.”
The Springstube Farm property is composed of approximately 70 percent prime and state agricultural soils. The farm, which grows corn and hay while providing land for sheep grazing, has been operated by the Springstube Family for six generations. The Springstube Farm abuts property held by the Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC), which recently worked closely with the Springstube family to permanently protect Ball Mountain.
“Through this acquisition, we have successfully protected more agricultural land from development that could negatively impact our food security here in the Commonwealth,” said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux. “I would like to commend the various groups involved in this project to place 165 acres of farmland into permanent protection, including the Berkshire Natural Resource Council, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Springstube Farm Family.”
The APR Program preserves and protects agricultural soils from use for non-agricultural purposes or any activity detrimental to agriculture. The voluntary program helps pay farmers the difference between the fair market value and the agricultural land value of their land, in exchange for a permanent deed restriction. The program also works to revitalize the agricultural industry by making land more affordable to farmers and their operations more financially secure. Since the inception of the APR program 40 years ago, over 74,000 acres of farmland has been protected across the Commonwealth through more than 900 acquisitions.
“The Springstube APR is a great example of the complementary benefits of land conservation,” said Berkshire Natural Resources Council Director of Land Conservation Narain Schroeder. “This APR not only protects prime ag soils from development, it also serves as a buffer to BNRC’s adjacent Tom Ball Reserve, over 600 ecologically important acres, conserved by 5 separate owners. Protection of the Springstube Farm, along with other APR farms in Alford Valley, ensures that this area retains its agricultural heritage and its rural scenic character.”
“We’re pleased to have partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources on the preservation of 165 acres of farmland on the Springstube Farm,” said Massachusetts State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Dan Wright. “By providing funding through the federal Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, we’re able to help the state protect working agricultural lands and prime farmland soils, which provides many environmental benefits for the Commonwealth. Thank you to the Springstube Family and MDAR.”
“We are a proud sixth generation, century farm working the land and preserving our farm for posterity,” said Springstube Farm owner John Springstube. “Although we have been approached by several developers, we have continued to work with staff from both the Department of Agricultural Resources and the Berkshire National Resources Council to place our land in APR protection. We want to extend our sincerest gratitude to all involved who helped us get to this point.”