The East Quabbin Land Trust is pleased to announce that a thirty (30) acre tract of land along Bates Street in North Brookfield was purchased last week. The property will be called the Wendemuth Meadow Preserve, in honor of the Wendemuth family who farmed the land and are fondly remembered in town for using hand scythes to hay the fields. The property is along a popular walking route, and the open fields and historic barn harkens back to the days of greater agricultural activity in North Brookfield.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the East Quabbin Land Trust to town,” cheered Harbour Fraser Hodder, co-chair of the Friends of Wendemuth Meadow group. “The community values these fields and scenic views. Having the property in the hands of the East Quabbin Land Trust means that it can ultimately be protected from future development.”
Back in 2010 community residents approached the East Quabbin Land Trust about conservation options for this parcel. At the time, the Town sought to purchase the property for agricultural conservation and public recreation. The Friends of Wendemuth Meadow group formed to advocate for conservation of the land. Negotiations with the landowner stalled, but discussions continued periodically during the intervening years which allowed another offer to purchase. Ultimately a follow-up offer was accepted and the contingencies were met.
Working with members of the Friends of Wendemuth Meadow group, the East Quabbin Land Trust offered to purchase the property at appraised value if the Town of North Brookfield would commit to applying for a Massachusetts Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity (L.A.N.D.) grant for FY15. The Board of Selectmen and Conservation Commission agreed and an application is underway. If approved, the L.A.N.D. grant will reimburse the Town of North Brookfield 70% of the purchase price. The Friends of Wendemuth Meadow and the East Quabbin Land Trust are committed to raising the remaining funds so that the purchase of the conservation restriction will not cost the town anything.
“It’s a beautiful piece of property with tremendous conservation value,” commented Cynthia Henshaw, Executive Director of the East Quabbin Land Trust. “But it’s the people who are totally committed to the land that gave us the confidence that this effort was worth the risk.” Bobolinks nest on the property and the wet meadow supports diverse plants and wildlife.
We invite you to come see for yourself! The property will be open for visitors on Sunday, April 6th from 2pm until 4pm. Walk the fields, take in the view from the hilltop, and meet your neighbors out enjoying the land. The property will also be open to visitors on Saturday, May 3rd from 1pm until 4pm and a BioBlitz (where professionals naturalists assist amateurs in documenting all the living species found during the day) will be held on Saturday July 12th. More details about activities on these days will be available in the coming weeks. To learn more about the property or join the Friends of Wendemuth Meadow please contact Cynthia Henshaw at 413-477-8229 or chenshaw@EQLT.org.