The Cheshire Herald published this article on the recent approval of Friends of Boulder Knoll utilizing two acres of land:
”Friends of Boulder Knoll Prepare to Farm a Two-Acre ‘Starter’ Parcel
by Josh Morgan
More than 18 months after its original proposal, the Friends of Boulder Knoll will finally get a chance to bring farming back to Boulder Knoll.
Since the fall of 2006, the volunteer group has been trying to get town approval to farm on a piece of the property known as Boulder Knoll Farm. Although the original proposal —presented to the town in September 2006 — was much different than the version Town Council approved on May 13, Kim Stoner, president of the Friends of Boulder Knoll, said it was “absolutely” a step in the right direction.
“This should work out really well for both us and the town,” Stoner explained. “It gives us the opportunity to get started and do real stuff on the land.”
The proposal that was approved unanimously by the Council allows the Friends of Boulder Knoll to work on a two-acre portion of the town-owned property. The group plans to grow herbs and vegetables, but most importantly, the group will prepare the land for a harvest next year.
Laura DeCaprio, a town councilor and chairman of the Planning Committee, said there was “some concern” because a proposal like this has not been previously implemented. By working with the group and listening to concerns, DeCaprio said a well-crafted proposal was created.
“The land is ready,” DeCaprio stated about the property. “This is a great chance for them to start working.”
The original proposal requested permission for the group to work on the whole 88-acre farm, which is under a conservation easement. Through donated money and fundraisers, the group planned to hire a farmer and purchase farm equipment so the land could be cultivated. That proposal was somewhat of a pipe dream, and Stoner explained that the plan was the “ultimate vision of what can be done on the property.” However, with so many resources on the land, Stoner said she was “not disappointed at all” to start with two acres.
“For our group, it will be plenty with which to start,” she said. “What we need to do is just get started and work on raising money.”
The contract with the town still needs to be officially signed, but Stoner expected work to occur on the land “fairly soon.”
“We need to do some initial things with the soil,” Stoner said, “So it will probably be a few weeks before we start planting things.”
Stoner explained that the “initial plan” is to prepare a small piece of the land, perhaps “a couple thousand square feet” as the group gradually grooms the land for 2009.
“A lot of our efforts will be preparation of the land,” Stoner said.
The group is somewhat limited in what it can do on the property because there are still some hurdles that need to be cleared. First and foremost is the lack of potable water, which restricts the possibility of intense farming. Also, invasive plant species are still prevalent on Boulder Knoll, a problem that the town hopes to remedy in the near future.
DeCaprio explained that a flora and fauna inventory is being conducted to identify any and all species on the property.
“A year or so down the line, a new plan could be possible,” suggested DeCaprio.
The agreement between the town and the Friends of Boulder Knoll would be limited to one year so the status and progress of the group’s efforts can be reviewed. For now though, DeCaprio is supportive of the grassroots group hitting the ground running to start cultivating the stagnant land.
“They are a dedicated and enthusiastic group,” DeCaprio said. “I’ve been very impressed with their efforts.” ”