“Pretty darn amazing and cool—truly a dream come true for so many of us in Princeton and the surrounding region—this farm was absolutely the iconic farm to protect!”
This was Deb Carey’s reaction upon hearing the news that the transfer of 60 acres of the former Fieldstone Farm to Hubbard’s Farm had been completed. Deb is the Director at Mass Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary and was a member of the Town of Princeton’s Open Space Committee when the 300-acre Fieldstone Farm came up for sale in 2015.
Growing a Family Farm
As part of a larger, coordinated effort to preserve the land (approximately 230 acres were ultimately protected), Mass Audubon purchased 60 acres—the agricultural core of the farm—with the intention of restricting the use of the property to agriculture (using the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program) and then selling the property to a local farmer.
Now that transfer has taken place.
Hubbard’s Farm couldn’t be a more perfect fit. A local, family owned and operated business, Nancy Hubbard’s late husband Brad was the third generation on this farm that Brad’s grandparents founded in the 1920s. And the family roots here go back to the 1700s! Nancy’s kids and grandchildren also live and work on the premises, providing meats and eggs, among many other products, to the community. The addition of this 60 acres gives them room to grow in response to the local food movement.
Getting to this point took assistance from both state and federal agencies who were happy to work on a project that protected so much farmland. “We are delighted to have worked with Mass Audubon, our federal partners the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Hubbard family to protect this property in Princeton. Preservation of this farmland will allow the Hubbard family to raise additional crops for their local farm operation which will improve the viability of another Massachusetts family farm,” stated John Lebeaux, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. Lebeaux’s colleague Christine Clarke at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service added, “We’re pleased to have partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and Mass Audubon on the preservation of Fieldstone Farm. Protecting working agricultural lands and prime farmland soils provides many benefits for the Commonwealth, including environmental quality, historic preservation, wildlife habitat and protection of open space.”
Continuing to Provide Access
The Hubbard’s new farm straddles Hubbardston Road, so finding a location for a connecting trail that permitted both agriculture and public hiking was a challenge. That challenge was quickly met by Mass Audubon, Princeton Land Trust, the Hubbard family, and the state APR program. In keeping with the conservation plan for the larger Fieldstone Farm landscape, Mass Audubon conveyed a trail easement on a segment of the 60-acre property to the Princeton Land Trust. Hikers will be able to make their way along a designated trail from Hubbardston Road to Mass Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary. Princeton Land Trust has plans to extend trails from Hubbardston Road to the town-owned land south of the farm.