On Sept. 10, 2013, a perpetual Conservation Restriction, co-held by Sudbury Valley Trustees and the Acton Conservation Trust, was recorded on Caouette Farm, which lies in the heart of South Acton. This 8 ½-acre property, which lies tucked away behind Stow, Maple and Martin Streets, has a long and rich history, with records of agricultural and early industrial age usage going back to the mid-1600s.
Caouette Farm’s diversity of habitat is an oasis for local wildlife. The property includes agricultural fields that now sprout a bountiful pumpkin crop, a portion of a large mill pond, and surrounding wetlands and woodlands. The eastern edge of the property abuts the future terminus of the Assabet Rail Trail.
Stonefield Farm, a much larger farm to the immediate south and west, has been owned and farmed by the Caouettes’ relatives, the Simeones, since the 1920s. The Simeones lease Caouette Farm’s fields for some of Stonefield Farm’s operations.
Nearly three years ago, the town purchased Caouette Farm for $1 million. The property had been enrolled in a state land protection program under which a landowner agrees to keep the farm in agricultural in exchange for a reduced local property tax. If the landowner ever opts to sell the land for development, the town can match the developer's offer and purchase it. Acton’s purchase matched an offer by a developer, who had planned to build six new houses on the property.
South Acton resident Clare Siska has a magnificent view of Caouette Farm’s newly conserved agricultural fields from her backdoor. She shared her appreciation for what this conservation restriction has achieved. “I see that expanse of land, through sun and storms and the many seasons and I'm almost overwhelmed by it - its beauty for all to enjoy, the wildlife it sustains, and how it has fed so many people for so many generations, both through the harvest and the work it provides for the farmers.”
Sudbury Valley Trustees participated in this collaborative effort, which also included the town of Acton, the Acton Conservation Trust, and dedicated citizens who served on the town’s Caouette CR Committee. Susan Crane, Land Protection Specialist at SVT, commented, “The Conservation Restriction will forever support local agriculture through the protection of the farm’s agricultural fields, reminiscent of Acton’s agrarian past. The mill pond and surrounding woodlands will remain in their natural state for wildlife, and the farm’s walking trails will provide a peaceful respite for the public. We are grateful to the town for its vision to protect this land, and we thank all of our partners in this effort.”
Sudbury Valley Trustees is a regional land trust that conserves land and protects wildlife habitat in the Concord, Assabet, and Sudbury river basin for the benefit of present and future generations. For more information, please go to www.svtweb.org