Charlie Wyman, Senior Land Protection Specialist
For generations, passersby on Route 62 through Princeton have admired Fieldstone Farm, owned and operated by the Smith family for many years. It is one of New England’s typical iconic landscapes, a farmhouse and barns surrounded by rolling fields and forest, in this case almost three hundred acres in all. The farm abuts Mass Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary to the north, and contains a wealth of forested, field and wetland habitats used by a wide variety of wildlife.
Sadly Ruth Smith passed away two years ago, and like many farm families in a difficult profession, her children chose different paths and the farm will soon go up for sale. Princeton has stepped up in the past to support new conservation areas and outdoor recreation. What happens to this farmland will help further define what kind of community Princeton becomes, and whether it’s a town that can continue to find balance between housing needs and its agricultural and open space legacy.
Fortunately the conservation community has two advantages in this challenge. One is the family, which has been honest and forthright with us in sharing their plans, timetable and intentions, and has promised us every opportunity to work with them on a conservation solution. The other is the array of potential conservation partners, including (in addition to Mass Audubon) the Princeton Land Trust, the state’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program, the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the town. Experience teaches us that in this 21st century, big expensive conservation projects require many partners, and we will need them all if Fieldstone Farm is to survive to grace the landscape of Princeton for another century. Stay tuned.