ACT was honored to work with Gary and Sandy Peters of Bath, who have long dreamed of conserving their family farm. Support from the NH Land & Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) went a long way toward making that possible.
ACT also had the support for the conservation project from the Bath Conservation Commission.
“I don’t want houses growing here,” Gary Peters says emphatically when he surveys the exquisite views from the top of a pasture.
In addition to being a working beef farm, the Peters make maple syrup and sell eggs. Both Gary and Sandy are natives of Bath and their families have deep roots in the area. Gary has long been involved in the Grafton County Conservation District and chairs the district commission. He has also served on the Grafton County Farm Advisory Board and the NH Milk Sanitation Board. Sandy is active with the Bath Historical Society and was involved with 4-H for over 30 years. She notes that she is the “chief babysitter for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as other children in the neighborhood.”
The Peters leased the farm on Goose Lane for several years and in 1982 they were able to buy it and make it home. They later added a neighboring farm to their holdings. All told, the Peters Farm is over 200 acres of rolling pastures, cropland, and forest. In 2008 the Peters were honored by the Green Pastures Program as the NH Dairy Farm of the Year. With the farm conserved, they will continue to live there, own the land, grow corn and hay, tend bees and chickens, make syrup, raise cows, and sell milk.
Forty-three acres of the property are identified as high-quality habitat, much of it mapped in the state Wildlife Action Plan as highest-ranked Habitat in the Biological Region. In fact, fields on the Peters farm have been identified as some of the highest-quality examples of grassland bird habitat in the state. The property also includes over 3,900 feet of mostly forested first- and second-order streams and 10 acres of wetlands and vernal pools. Nearly a half-mile of maintained snowmobile trail crosses the property, and is open for public use.
ACT worked with the Peters to create a conservation easement that forever protects the land’s natural resources and scenic views and encourages the Peters and future generations of farmers to make a living there.
When Richard Walling and Camille Wharey moved here in the 1980s from the south, they found what they considered the perfect place along the Connecticut River – wide open emerald fields, a forest filled with hemlock, and an old farmhouse that was the site of the Carbee Farm, the first farm settlement in Bath. Years later, they decided they wanted to conserve the property. This is a tremendous gesture for the community of Bath, which prides its heritage and seeks to keep farming viable
The 151-acre conservation area includes over nearly a half mile of Connecticut River shoreland, and straddles National Scenic Byway NH Route 135. Its 65 acres of field have prime soils for growing corn or hay, and Rick and Camille have managed that land for grassland birds. A local farmer cuts hay there for his beef cattle.
The river itself is home to a dwarf wedge mussel – a federally endangered species that most of us will never see, but which makes this land especially important to conserve for helping to protect clean water. The conservation agreement ensures that a wide buffer of trees and shrubs be allowed to grow along the river, which helps filter out dirty stormwater runoff, and provides habitat and cooling shade on river, which is good for all sorts of wildlife from fish to otters to songbirds. The importance of this land along the river made it part of our Clean water/Healthy Trout initiative.