Last summer, Franklin Land Trust added an important puzzle piece to a vibrant constellation of conserved land in Heath through the conservation of the Freeman Farm. Abutting the Crowningshield Conservation Area – a project originally protecting 96 acres south of the West Branch Brook, including designated cold-water fisheries vital to the long-term survival of native brook trout – the 6.5-acre Freeman Farm joins a patchwork of protected land held by the state of Massachusetts, two conservation organizations, and several private landowners. With its addition, a large area of nearly 1,500 acres of farms, forests, and wildlands has been protected forever.
The Freeman Farm Conservation Restriction highlights Franklin Land Trust’s commitment to protecting the rich tapestry of mixed land-use that gives our region its unique rural character. At their multi-generational farm, Michael Freeman and his family raise grass-fed beef, pastured pork, chickens and lamb on hills overlooking the Crowningshield Conservation Area. Through a conservation restriction agreement, their farmland is forever protected from development, ensuring this valuable agricultural resource will continue to support the region for years to come. Joining the larger mosaic of conserved land around it – including the HO Cook State Forest to the northeast, and FLT and Mass Audubon land to the south – the Freeman CR will contribute to the neighborhood’s long-term ecological health.
Protecting the working landscapes of western Massachusetts is a key facet of our mission as a conservation organization, and Franklin Land Trust is proud to partner with landowners committed to managing their fields and forests with the long-term health of the region in mind. Through thoughtful planning, and coordination with our partners, the effects of individual conservation projects can be amplified – and we are excited to see the impact the nearly 1,500 acres of protected land holds for Heath’s future.