TPL Acquires Farmland in Holyoke (MA)

September 22, 2004
Massachusetts

Holyoke, Massachusetts, 9/21/04: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, and Nuestras Raíces, Inc. (NR) announced Tuesday that TPL has acquired approximately four acres of riverfront land located at the corner of Main Street and Jones Ferry Road in Holyoke. TPL has purchased the property from the Kallmeyer family of Holyoke and will hold it until NR can assemble the remainder of the purchase price.

NR and its community partners are preparing this land for community farming and to develop an environmental stewardship center for neighborhood youth.

Nuestras Raíces ("Our Roots"), a grassroots organization that advances economic, human, and community development in inner-city Holyoke, has unveiled a promising plan for the property that will provide Holyoke with cultural events, economic opportunities, and a beautiful riverfront open space near the urban core. The plan, called Proyecto Tierra de Oportunidades—Land of Opportunities—includes agricultural training, economic development, waterfront activities like canoeing, and youth outreach to foster community pride and cohesion.

Julia Rivera, the President of NR says, "I am so pleased that we will be able to renew the agricultural tradition on this land and, at the same time, celebrate the culture of Puerto Rico. Our farmers and youth will benefit from this opportunity for generations to come."

David Queeley, TPL's Parks for People director, says, "Working with Nuestras Ra?ces, along with the City of Holyoke, the Children's Museum, and the University of Massachusetts, has been a wonderful example of committed, diverse partnerships protecting land in cities. This community farm will be a productive green space that all citizens will enjoy." Other local partners include the Connecticut River Watershed Council and El Arco Iris Youth and Community Arts Center.

Jane's Trust, a Boston-based foundation, has been instrumental in providing significant funding to acquire the property. NR has also received a major grant from Partners for Livable Communities of Washington, D.C., with funding provided by the Ford Foundation, in support of the planning and future programming for the project.

The United Technologies Corporation (UTC) has also been a strong supporter of this project through their generous support of TPL's Connecticut River Program. Clem Clay, TPL's new Connecticut River program director, says "We are grateful to United Technologies Corporation, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, and others for recognizing the importance of an integrated approach to land protection in cities, suburbs, and rural areas throughout the watershed." TPL's Connecticut River Program seeks to preserve the strong connection between land and people that has been central to the quality of life in the Connecticut River's four-state watershed for centuries.

Over half of the land will be divided into one-quarter- to one-half-acre plots, to be rented by 4-6 experienced community gardeners who will begin a transition to organic commercial farming. These urban farmers will be supported with technical assistance, business planning assistance, training, and access to farming equipment to make their future evolution to larger-scale farming possible. New farmer Luis Aponte says, "Farming here is about learning, about feeling the connection with Puerto Rico, and that we are all together."

One example of youth activities planned for the site includes the Protectores de la Tierra youth leadership program. Thirty boys and girls will learn about stewardship of the river, trees, and the wildlife along the bank. Youth will enjoy, many for the first time, access to the river for fishing, canoeing, camping and picnicking. Youth Leader Joel Nieves says "This will be a chance for youth and older people to make bigger farms, to plant what we want and work together."

The land will also be used by Nuestras Raíces to hold cultural, environmental, educational, and community-building activities, such as the annual Harvest Party, to take place at this site on Saturday, September 25.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit conservation organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.9 million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 10,000 acres in Massachusetts. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, please contact us at (617) 367-6200 or visit www.tpl.org/massachusetts.

Nuestras Raíces is a grass-roots organization that promotes economic, human and community development in Holyoke, Massachusetts through projects relating to food and agriculture. Nuestras Raíces was founded in 1992 to manage the La Finquita community garden and with the goal of developing a greenhouse in downtown Holyoke. Nuestras Ra?ces is building cultural pride as well as the ability of low-income Latinos in Holyoke to address environmental, economic development, substance abuse, and food security issues. For more information or to make a donation to the Proyecto Tierra de Oportunidades, please contact Daniel Ross, Executive Director, at (413) 535-1789, visit our web site at http://www.nuestras-raices.org or send a donation to Nuestras Raíces, Inc., 329 Main Street, Holyoke, MA 01040.

Note to editors: For an electronic map or photograph of the property, contact Daria Ovide at (617) 367-6200 x330.