Trust for Public Land Helps Protect Historic Pearl Farm
Today, Trust for Public Land announces the protection of the 275-acre Pearl Farm in Loudon. The farm produces hay, squash, pumpkins, sweet corn, and maple syrup, contributing to New Hampshire’s local food economy.
“The Pearl Farm is a historic farm that has been in the Pearl Farm for four generations and protecting this space helps to sustain the local foods movement and the rural character of the community,” said J.T. Horn, Trails Initiative Director for Trust for Public Land. “We were pleased to help the Pearl family put the farm on a more stable footing and help the Loudon Conservation Commission with their goal of conserving the agricultural heritage and wildlife habitat found on Loudon Ridge.”
Trust for Public Land worked for the last three years alongside Howard Pearl and the Loudon Conservation Commission to purchase a conservation easement on the land. A conservation easement is a type of legal document that prevents residential or industrial development while allowing agriculture and forestry to continue. The easement will be held by the Loudon Conservation Commission.
The Pearl Farm is a valuable site for agriculture — 72% of the farm has soil classified as highly productive. Almost every acre is being used for food production with 25 acres cultivated for vegetables, 20 acres for hay and pasture, and the remaining woodlands managed as a maple sugar bush with over 10,000 maple taps. Corn, squash and pumpkins grown on the farm are sold to local supermarkets including Market Basket and Shaw’s and through local farm stands. Syrup is sold directly from the sugarhouse in the spring or wholesale to regional suppliers.
The property provides critical open space and wildlife habitat within the town of Loudon, whose proximity to Concord and the capital region have contributed to significant population growth and suburbanization over the past 40 years, leading to the conversion of forests and farms to residential development. Loudon’s Master Plan calls for protection of the last farms found in the Loudon Ridge neighborhood, which maintains numerous large parcels with a history of agriculture and forestry. The Town of Loudon Agriculture Committee also actively promotes local foods for their health benefits, low-carbon footprint, and economic benefits for the community.
Four generations of the Pearl family have owned the property since the late 1800s. Over the years, the farm has adapted from a small dairy to a diversified farm. By selling a conservation easement, the Pearls can retire debt, reinvest in the farm business and make a smoother transition to the next farm family who will care for this land. The long-term stewardship of the farm is especially important for maple syrup as some trees take up to 40 years to start producing.
Funding for the $850,000 easement purchase came from the Natural Resource Conservation Service, New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), Loudon Conservation Fund, and a bargain sale by the landowner. Loudon’s funding passed unanimously at their 2021 town meeting.
“The NRCS is proud to partner with Pearl Farm and the Trust for Public Lands to achieve this conservation easement on the farm’s 275 acres,” said Becky Ross, State Conservationist for the Department of Agriculture’s NRCS in New Hampshire. “This effort will guarantee the preservation of this historic farm that provides valuable habitat for wildlife and a local food source to surrounding communities – not just for the current generation, but for generations yet to come.”
Additional support for transaction costs came from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the New Hampshire Moose Plate conservation license plate program.
“Protecting Pearl Farm ensures the continuation of local food production and creates opportunities for local residents to enjoy the natural beauty of the farm,” said Melinda Mosier, director of donor services at New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. “We’re thrilled when we can connect generous people to important work that needs support and that will help our New Hampshire community thrive.”
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 3 million acres of public land, created more than 5,000 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $84 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected more than 9 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.