Protecting a Piece of History
Saving the Family Farm
At the end of February, William Penn Tuttle III planted the kind of perennial one just might expect of an 11th-generation American farmer. For this one, however, he used a pen, not a spade or a hoe, signing papers to protect his 120-acre farm in New Hampshire from development forever with a conservation easement. With his signature he completed the first phase of a long-term conservation project being conducted by The Strafford Rivers Conservancy and the City of Dover Open Lands Committee.
Sometime in the 1980s, Mr. Tuttle began to realize that if he wanted to pass the farm to the next generation as a farm--not a piece of property open for mining or for commercial development--he would have to handle the land transfer differently than had been done in the past. Simply put, the development value of the farm had become too high.
After a thorough research process, Mr. Tuttle chose The Strafford Rivers Conservancy to ensure that the terms of the conservation easement will be followed. He explained that because of a longtime familiarity with the organization, “I have a lot of confidence in what they're doing. It's a labor of love for them, and they've done a great job."
A Treasury of History and Nature
Tuttle Farm is the nation's oldest continuously owned family farm. Mr. Tuttle's ancestor, John Tuttle, started working its soils in the 1630s. With each generation of Tuttles, a single person has owned the farm.
Along with its historical significance, the farm holds many natural riches – streams that feed the Bellamy and Piscataqua Rivers, and an array of soil types, ranging from gravel to clay, underlie the property. The wildlife population includes deer, wild turkey, woodcock, coyote, skunk, geese, ducks, and great blue heron.
Already two years into the process, the Dover City Council has approved $1.5 million in conservation funds toward the $3 million project. Mr. Tuttle is looking forward to completing the second phase of the project, at which point he will transfer the balance of the development rights for the property.
by Elizabeth Manus
Photo by Anna Boudreau, Strafford Rivers Conservancy