Temple’s Hidden Meadow Farm conserved
TEMPLE – The Forest Society has purchased an easement on 69 acres of the Connolly Brothers’ Hidden Meadow Farm on Webster Highway in the northern part of town. It is the last dairy farm in town.
The Society was aided in the purchase by The Russell Farm and Forest Conservation Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, and a grant from the Quabbin-to-Cardigan Initiative Grant.
The land is now protected forever from development.
The Connollys accepted a lower than market value price, effectively donating $150,000 to the purchase to the easement. They will use the proceeds to purchase more land to support their diversified operation.
Martin and Lynda Connolly purchased the farm in 1967. They were both teachers and taught in nearby schools until Martin switched to contracting. They built a small barn, and became dairy farmers.
The three sons and their wives purchased the farm from their parents soon after they had completed college. There are three grandchildren who could carry on the business.
Ian McSweeney, director of the Russell Foundation, said the project meets the need to protect farm land and meet the demand for locally grown food.
Jane Diffley, president/forester of the Forest Society said that preserving woodlands is also important, noting the benefits "healthy forests give to people, wildlife and the environment."
The farm, now owned by the brothers Chris, Mike, and Pat, produces, in addition to milk and ice cream, cheese, and maple syrup. They also raise beef cows, sheep, pigs, rabbits, run a hunting lodge and a farm store, and process wool grown by others as well as their own.
The farm is now 105 acres of field and forest with more land leased for growing hay. They want to add more beef cattle and need more acreage. Leasing land is uncertain, Martin Connolly said.
They sell some of the milk from their 30 Jerseys to Hood, but keep most of it to sell themselves or make into cheese and ice cream.
The farm with its new state-of-the-art barns was open recently during the Temple Barn Tour. The whole story will appear in the fall issue of Forest Notes, the Forest Society newsletter.