Historic West Bridgewater Farm Saved!

February 13, 2014
Westbridgewater, MA

Today The Trust for Public Land announced that Farmer Pete and Miss Lynn (a.k.a. Peter C. and Lynn Reading) are the new owners of the 74- acre C&C Reading Farm, LLC, formerly known as the Hayward Dairy Farm, located in West Bridgewater on East Center Street.

Farmer Pete and Miss Lynn plan to raise both certified organic and conventional produce at Reading Farm, with crops for local consumers including pumpkins, squashes, tomatoes, apples, strawberries, and more.

“We can’t wait to get going,” said Miss Lynn. “I love being able to watch something grow from a small seed and become something more. I love educating our customers and their children about where our food really comes from.”

The purchase included transactions by the nonprofit The Trust for Public Land, Massachusetts Agricultural Preservation Program, the federal Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, and previous owners, Tara Realty Associates, a subsidiary of the Tedeschi Food Shops.

The Trust for Public Land purchased the property from Tara Realty Associates, which had previously considered the land for several commercial development plans including a large commercial warehouse, a big box retail store, and a solar farm. Following The Trust for Public Land acquisition, the Commonwealth purchased an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) on the property. The APR guarantees the land can only be used for farming, making the land less valuable to potential developers. This allowed Farmer Pete and Miss Lynn to purchase the farm for a reasonable price.

“Farm land is becoming scarcer in Massachusetts and across the country because there is more money in big development,” said Farmer Pete. ”We struggled for more than 14 years to buy a farm, but everything was too expensive. Then we got the opportunity of a lifetime. This is really a dream come true for us.”

The Trust for Public Land is committed to continuing the tradition of community farms in the Northeast.

“In Massachusetts we’re excited to see a strong consumer interest in locally grown food,” said Darci Schofield, project manager at The Trust for Public Land. “But many farmers can’t afford to buy land. The Trust for Public Land is committed to preserving local farm land so communities can have access to locally-grown food, farmers can achieve their dreams, and we can preserve beautiful natural spaces for future generations.”

The Massachusetts Agricultural Preservation Program, part of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, wanted to protect Reading Farm because of its outstanding farm soils and because of its desire to preserve community farms in Southeast Massachusetts.

"It was a pleasure working with Darci and the Readings on this wonderful project,” said Chris Chisolm, APR program planner with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources. “I am so happy that Lynn and Pete were able to fulfill a long time dream of owning their own piece of soil to cultivate. Projects like this one make me more committed to working on not only protecting prime agricultural soils for future farming generations but on actually connecting those farmers to particular pieces – it really gets to the heart of what the department's Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program is all about."

Farmer Pete and Miss Lynn, who have been married for 38 years, are thankful The Trust for Public Land came into their lives.

“The Trust for Public Land has given us the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Miss Lynn. “We have a lot of respect for what they do and it enabled us to reach a goal in life. To climb the highest mountain and reach the top.”

Before the purchase of Reading Farm, Farmer Pete and Miss Lynn operated Billingsgate Farm. The couple rented farmland in several different towns and would spend much of their day traveling to access their plots. Despite these challenges, they grew their business from a small farm stand to a robust community farm with organic and other quality certifications. They also organized fall farm festivities including a corn maze, charity benefits, hayrides, outdoor concerts, and much more. Their successful wholesale business includes sales to Whole Foods Market in the greater Boston area and other major grocery chains.

The Reading Farm was previously the site of Hayward Dairy Farm. The farm was operated by the Hayward family and provided milk in glass bottles to West Bridgewater and other surrounding towns for nearly 300 years. When the Hayward family could no longer operate the farm, they sold the land to a grocery food chain and eventually it transferred to Tara Realty Associates.

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at tpl.org.