Chickering Farm in Westmoreland, New Hampshire, has been in the Chickering family for more than 200 years. Eighty-five-year-old Arthur “Jim” Chickering is the sole owner of the farm and manages its day-to-day operations including the care of 400 dairy cows. The 350-acre dairy farm is one of the last of its kind in the area and the largest remaining dairy farm in the Monadnock region.
Jim has spent his whole life working the land, and his deep connection to it motivated him to conserve the property. With dairy farming an increasingly difficult business, there was a high risk that the land would be lost to development, but Jim refused to let that happen.
As Jim explained, “I couldn’t bear to see my fields plowed over for houses. This land — this good soil — is meant to be farmed. I’m so glad to know that the land will stay in farming and that future generations can enjoy the land as much as I have.”
The farm is rich with history as well as biodiversity. It is located along Route 63, and has been farmed by the Chickering family for six generations, since 1801. The property stretches for more than a mile along the Connecticut River, and includes prime agricultural soils and forested floodplain, both rare resources in the state. A variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, deer, bear, and coyote, call the farm home.
Mill Brook, with its refreshingly cool water and deep pools, is a favorite swimming spot for locals and has long been open to the public. Now that the land is protected, people will get to continue enjoying this special place.
The Chickering Farm is the most important farmland project to date to be protected with the Monadnock Conservancy. It happened in large part due to the generous support of the following funders: the USDA’s Agricultural Land Easement program, the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, the 1772 Foundation, the Russell Farm and Forest Conservation Foundation, the Thomas W. Haas Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the New Hampshire State Conservation Committee’s (“Moose Plate”) Grant Program, the Town of Westmoreland, and several anonymous donors.
The Monadnock Conservancy, founded in 1989, is the only land trust dedicated exclusively to the 35 towns in the Monadnock region of southwestern New Hampshire. Its mission is to work with communities and landowners to conserve the natural resources, wild and working lands, rural character and scenic beauty of the region. Based in Keene, the Conservancy is an accredited organization that has protected 20,000 acres of forest, farmland, shoreline, wetlands, wildlife habitat and recreation trails in the region. For more information or to sign up for the monthly e-newsletter, visit www.MonadnockConservancy.org or call 603-357-0600.