From Wayne Fieden, Northampton Direct of Planning and Development:
I am pleased to announce that today the City closed on an agriculture preservation restriction on 81.6 acres in the Northampton Meadows. Under this agriculture preservation restriction, the land will be be preserved forever for agriculture while in private ownership by a farmer, Charles Jasinski. Not only can this property never be developed, but there is an affirmative obligation to keep the farm in active production. This is especially important since we see one of the risks to farmland is simply allowing it to go fallow and have trees take over.
Under this agreement, 78.5 acres of land that Charles Jasinski owns on the east side of Interstate 91 will be forever in farming. In addition, 3.5 acres that the city acquired as the result of non-payment of taxes from a different property owner has been transferred to Charles. This summer he restored it for active agriculture, a huge task on land that has been fallow for two decades. City property tax collections will go up on this farmland (although only very slightly) as a result of this project.
Charles Jaskinski is the same farmer who donated two separate additions to Sheldon Recreation Field, one earlier this year and one a few years ago, partially in memory of his father, William Jaskinski. As with the Sheldon Recreation Field donation, this APR is partially a business deal for Charles, but also it is in support of Charles' world view of husbanding land for future generations.
No matter how much farmers want to preserve their land, however, in the end the most effective way to preserve farmland is to ensure that the farmers can make a living from farming. The purchase of Agriculture Preservation Restrictions helps by providing farmers with a one time payment and then lowering their basis in the land. That is, the farmers are selling their development rights and their rights to convert the land, guaranteeing that we and our children will have food security and preventing growth from sprawling onto land that should not be supporting it.
Many thanks are due for this project:
1. First and foremost, Charles Jasinski, the farmer. Charles and his family have been husbanding land in the meadows for generations, supporting food production and resource preservation. Charles is one of our heroes for his hard work and dedication, his work feeding us all, and his vision for the future.
2. Mayor David J. Narkewicz, for supporting this project, first as a City Councilor and then as Mayor
3. The Community Preservation Committee and City Council, especially Ward 3 Councilor Owen Freeman-Daniels, for approving the expenditure of funds for this project.
4. The Agriculture Commission and the Conservation Commission, who supported this project in one of their first joint projects (the last being the Bean-Allard Farm
The Agriculture Commission and the Conservation Commission, working with the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture Resources, hope to build on this success and permanently preserve any parcel of farmland whose owner wants to take part in this effort. Any Northampton landowner interested in preserving their property can contact Wayne Feiden, Director of Planning and Development at WFeiden@NorthamptonMA.gov or 587-1265.
Photo courtesy ePsos. de via Flickr. Used under creative commons license.