Orchard Campaign Nears Goal (NH)

Concord, NH, 6/14/01: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA) recently announced the allocation of $300,000 from the federal Farmland Protection Program to the Sunnycrest Orchard project in Concord. This award was hailed by three organizations—the Trust for Public Land, the Friends of the Orchard, and the Concord Conservation Trust—which are working together to protect the 176-acre orchard on Carter Hill Road from development.

“This is tremendously good news and puts us within arms’ reach of our $1.2 million goal for the project. We are very grateful to the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the New Hampshire Congressional delegation for their support of this project,” said Whitney Hatch, regional director of the Trust for Public Land (TPL). “It is even more significant because it comes on the heels of a $405,000 award from the State of New Hampshire. Now, the clock is ticking down to our June 30, 2001 deadline to purchase the property. We still need to raise $50,000 by the end of the month to meet our $1.2 million goal and protect the land permanently.” TPL’s agreement to purchase the orchard from Sunnycrest Farm, Inc. expires on June 30, 2001.

According to Shireen Tilley, a member of the citizens group Friends of the Orchard, “Generations of residents have enjoyed this beautiful property, and this grant moves us very close to our dream of protecting it as a working farm forever. The fact that the Sunnycrest Orchard project has been awarded this very competitive funding is a testament to just how extraordinary the property is.”

“It is exciting to be so close to protecting the Orchard as a place for future generations to continue picking apples, walking trails, and enjoying the views,” remarked Tom Masland, Concord Conservation Trust board member. “We are grateful for the broad support that this project has received and are working hard to meet the remaining fundraising challenge.” Contributions to the Campaign to Save Sunnycrest Orchard are tax-deductible and can be sent to the Concord Conservation Trust c/o Deborah Butler, Sulloway & Hollis, 9 Capitol Street, Concord, NH 03302. “This grant award is great news not only for the people of Concord but for the effort to protect New Hampshire’s farmlands,” said Senator Judd Gregg. “Sunnycrest Orchard has long been a key part of our state’s agricultural and environmental heritage and today’s announcement represents a major step towards preserving it for future generations. The Trust for Public Land, Friends of the Orchard, and Concord Conservation Trust deserve our thanks for all the work they have done so far on this vital project.”

“This grant will help ensure that Sunnycrest Orchard remains productive farmland,” said U.S. Representative Charles Bass (R- NH02). “I am pleased to have played a small role in the ongoing effort to protect the orchard, which will help maintain the quality of life for which New Hampshire is famous.”

“The Natural Resources Conservation Service is very proud to be part of this conservation effort,” said Richard Babcock, State Conservationist. “Urban development has been a major cause of loss of farmland in New Hampshire. According to the NRCS National Resource Inventory, during the 15-year period from 1982 to 1997, New Hampshire lost 26,700 acres of cropland and pastureland to urban development.”

“There was vigorous competition in the Farmland Protection Program this year, with $116 million requested nationwide and only $17.5 million available,” Mr. Babcock continued. “With New Hampshire losing so much farmland, we are very pleased to have received $506,300 to go toward the permanent protection of agricultural land in the state.”

Last fall, TPL reached an agreement to purchase Sunnycrest Orchard and teamed up with the Friends of the Orchard and the Concord Conservation Trust to launch a campaign to save the property. Since then, the project has received funding from the city of Concord, the state of New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, the federal Farmland Protection Program, and more than 250 individuals and businesses.

In addition, critical support for the project has been provided by a broad range of elected officials, including U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, U.S. Representative Charles Bass, Governor Jeanne Shaheen, State Senator Sylvia Larson, State Representative Frances D. Potter, Concord Mayor Bill Veroneau, and Concord City Councilors Andrew G. Tarbell, David G. Poulin, and Marjory Swope.

With spectacular views of Mount Moosilauke and Mount Cardigan, 50 rolling acres of mature fruit trees, and a thriving farmstand, Sunnycrest Orchard is both a working farm and a recreational resource for the community. The coalition working to save the property plans to place a conservation and public access easement over the orchard that will prohibit development permanently, and then sell the property to a private buyer for continued agricultural use.

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 launched 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.