Friends in the NH Register

 Nonprofit leases bit of Boulder Knoll for $1
By Luther Turmell 
New Haven Register 

 CHESHIRE — A nonprofit group has signed a lease with the town to use 2 acres of the townowned Boulder Knoll property. 

    Friends of Boulder Knoll will pay the town $1 for the one-year lease to use the piece of land located at the southeast corner of the 189-acre property, said Jill Casertano, secretary of the group’s board of directors. Casertano said members of the group have already planted some peppers and basil and will add green beans, corn, peas and lettuce during a work party scheduled for Saturday morning. Individuals interested in participating in Saturday’s work party should contact Casertano by e-mail at inf 

    But the bulk of the 2 acres the group has leased will be filled with cover crops, which are designed to suppress weeds, fend off pests and add nitrogen to the soil for use by future food crops. Certain types of clover and vetch are considered cover crops. 

    “We did a soil test and found that the PH level of the soil was very low, too low for us to grow some of the organic crops we wanted,” Casertano said. “By growing clover crops on the majority of the land we’re leasing, we’re hoping to add hydrogen and organic matter to the soil for next year.” 

    Friends of Boulder Knoll had originally approached the town about taking control of the entire property, which would be used for a mix of farming and walking trails, Casertano said. But town officials rebuffed the plan, choosing instead to lease a smaller portion to the group and another small portion to Cheshire Police Officer Kerry Deegan, who grows sunflowers on his piece of land. 

    “The town wasn’t ready to hand over all that land to one group,” Casertano said. “Over time, we’re hoping to gain the trust of town officials so that we can increase the amount of property we’re able to lease.” 

    TownManagerMichaelMilone said that the lease agreement with Friends of Boulder Knoll is part of a multi-phased effort “to bring that property back to life.” 

    Some of the food crops that Friends of Boulder Knoll grow this season will given to area groups that combat hunger, she said. The bulk of the produce raised on the property will be sold to the public, Casertano said, with the group’s ultimate goal of rasing enough money to get a farmer to oversee the property on a daily basis. 

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