Carter Hill Orchard Permanently Protected
Concord, NH, 8/1/01: Sunnycrest Orchard was protected permanently today, bringing to a successful conclusion a year-long campaign to save the property from development. The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit conservation organization, exercised its right to purchase the 155-acre property on Carter Hill Road from Sunnycrest Farm, Inc. and then arranged for a conservation easement over the land to be granted jointly to the City of Concord and the Concord Conservation Trust. The easement is a binding legal document that will permanently prohibit development and provide public access to the property for low-impact recreation. Once the easement was in place, the property was purchased for continued use as a working farm and community resource by the orchard’s longtime manager, Rob Larocque, and his wife, Annette Larocque.
Last fall, TPL reached an agreement to purchase the orchard from Sunnycrest Farm, Inc. and joined forces with the Friends of the Orchard and the Concord Conservation Trust to launch a campaign to save the property. The project received funding from the City of Concord, State of New Hampshire, and the federal Farmland Protection Program. In addition, donations from more than 250 private contributors brought the fundraising drive to a successful close.
Critical support for the project was provided by a broad range of nonprofit organizations and elected officials, including the Concord Conservation Trust, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the Trust for Public Land, U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, U.S. Representative Charles Bass, Governor Jeanne Shaheen, NH Senate President Arthur P. Klemm, Jr., NH Speaker of the House Gene Chandler, State Senator Sylvia Larson, Concord Mayor Bill Veroneau, and Concord City Councilors Andrew G. Tarbell, David G. Poulin, and Marjory Swope.
“The campaign to protect New Hampshire’s valuable and unique farmlands takes a major step forward with this announcement,” said U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH). “Because of the vital role it has long played in our state’s agricultural heritage and scenic landscape, saving the orchard from development became a community-wide priority. The Friends of the Orchard, the Concord Conservation Trust, and TPL should take great pride in the commitment they made to insuring that future generations will be able to enjoy this treasured natural resource.”
“I congratulate the Trust for Public Land and everyone who has worked to ensure that this orchard remains a working farm,” said U.S. Representative Charles Bass (R-NH). “I am happy to have played a small role in this project, which will help maintain the quality of life for which New Hampshire is famous.”
“Our working farms and forests, our open spaces and our historic places are what make New Hampshire such a special place to live. Through initiatives such as the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program and GrowSmart New Hampshire, we are working hard to preserve these special places for future generations of New Hampshire citizens,” said Governor Jeanne Shaheen. “I am proud that the State of New Hampshire could be a partner in preserving Sunnycrest Orchard so that the citizens of Concord and New Hampshire can continue to enjoy this special place for generations to come.”
“Today’s announcement is testimony to the fact that the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, passed by the Legislature this past year, will play an important role in shaping the future of this state’s natural and cultural resources. As an original sponsor of the LCHIP legislation, I, along with my colleagues, have made a commitment to preserve areas like Sunnycrest Orchards, which is a valuable asset to Concord and the surrounding community,” said New Hampshire Senate President Arthur Klemm. “This preservation project shows that by working together and reaching out to resources at the federal, state, and local levels, we can keep precious agricultural and recreational land open for public use and protect our valuable community resources.”
Gene Chandler, Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, said, “I think this is an excellent example of a worthwhile project. It is one that will preserve a valuable land resource while ensuring public access for recreation. What was accomplished here can be used as a model for similar endeavors.”
“On behalf of the City of Concord, we are delighted and gratified that the Sunnycrest Orchard will be preserved in its present form as a priceless environmental asset to the city and to the region,” said Concord Mayor William Veroneau. “Our thanks go to the Trust for Public Land, which coordinated the efforts of many interested groups such as our Congressional delegation, State of New Hampshire, Friends of the Orchard, Concord Conservation Trust, and a myriad of private supporters, each of whom contributed to this amazing success story. This constitutes a wonderful gift to future generations of our City and our region.”
Known for its spectacular views of Mount Moosilauke and Mount Cardigan, Sunnycrest Orchard includes 50 rolling acres of mature fruit trees and a thriving farm stand. The orchard is both a working farm and an invaluable community resource, and has for years offered residents a chance to connect with the area’s agricultural heritage. In addition, the orchard is an important educational and recreational resource. More than 2,000 children visit the orchard annually on field trips, and the property’s extensive hiking and cross-country skiing trails are enjoyed by local residents year-round.
Funding for the protection of the orchard included: a contribution of $150,000 from the City of Concord, a grant of $405,000 from the State of New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, a grant of $300,000 from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Farmland Protection Program, and $345,000 in private donations.
“We applaud everyone who has worked so hard to make this project a success,” said TPL regional director Whitney Hatch. “Working with residents of the greater Concord community, the Hicks and Conner families, and local, state, and federal officials to protect Sunnycrest Orchard has been a true pleasure. Together, we have created a wonderful legacy for the future.”
“Concord Conservation Trust and its members were very happy to be involved with this project,” said Paul MacDonald, chairman of the Concord Conservation Trust. “It’s very gratifying for a private local land trust like us to play a role in a conservation project that means this much to the City and to the community.”
Debby Butler, a member of the Friends of the Orchard, said that her group is “delighted that this beautiful property has been permanently preserved. The tremendous outpouring of support from the community has been heartwarming. Donations came from piggy banks to the Merrimack County Savings Bank, from pocket change to stock portfolios, and they all added up to keep one of Concord’s treasures here for generations to come. And to everyone that stuffed envelopes or stuffed the bank account, thanks a bushel and a peck.”
“I am thrilled to own this beautiful piece of property after 30 years of managing the farm,” said Rob Larocque, long-time orchard manager and now new owner of the property. “We couldn’t have done it without the hard work of the Friends, Concord Conservation Trust, the Trust for Public Land, local, state and federal elected officials, and residents of Concord.”
The Trust for Public Land is a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide, including nearly 10,000 acres in New Hampshire. The Campaign to Save Sunnycrest Orchard is the second project to be completed as part of TPL’s new Farmland Protection Program in New Hampshire. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs.