Walpole Citizens Group Launches Effort to Save Sunny Rock Farm

A newly formed group of Walpole residents, called “Citizens for Sunny Rock Farm,” has formed to lead the effort to save 74 acres of Sunny Rock Farm, located on North and Fisher Streets, for the benefit of the Walpole community. A national nonprofit organization, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), has entered into an agreement with the current landowner, the Buttimer Family Trust, providing the Town the opportunity to purchase the land including approximately 8 acres for new playing fields and 66 acres for agriculture and conservation.

The remainder of the Sunny Rock Farm property on the west side of North Street is already under agreement to be developed into eight luxury homes. An additional 30 homes were slated for the 74 acres now available for preservation.

Sunny Rock was a beloved center of local farming in the community, offering farm products, milk in glass bottles, fresh eggs, holiday pies, Christmas trees, and hayrides. It was home to a local 4-H Club, which housed goats, sheep, and rabbits on the farm and provided opportunities for families to visit and care for the animals. Sunny Rock has lain dormant for more than 12 years, but the Citizens for Sunny Rock would like to see the land returned to farming through a lease option with a new farmer to provide local food to the community, Walpole’s Food Pantry, schools, and local restaurants. Part of the property will also be set aside for new athletic fields on the Fisher Street side.

Jack Wiley, Chair of the Walpole Conservation Commission, said, “The Sunny Rock project is a tremendous one-time opportunity to preserve open space, re-establish agriculture, and provide new athletic fields for the town.”

The Citizens and The Trust for Public Land have until June 15, 2012 to raise the $2.95 million purchase price. The first $1 million has already been committed from an anonymous donor. A combination of private donations and town funds will be sought to complete the purchase.

The Citizens Group is organizing a public tour of the property for Saturday, February 11 from 10 AM – noon. Meanwhile, for real time updates on the project, join the Citizens on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Citizens for Sunnyrock Farm.

The Trust for Public Land 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 3 million acres of land nationwide, including more than 14,000 acres in Massachusetts. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission.