A Conservation Easement Story: Chesterfield, NH
This is a story about a family that bought some farmland in Chesterfield, then made the decision to conserve it so that it would always be available for farming.
Lucius “Lucky” and Barb Evans moved to this 37-acre property along Route 63 in Chesterfield only nine years ago. While they are not farmers themselves, they lease the fields to a local farmer who harvests several thousand square hay bales in a good year, and the maple trees along the southern boundary are tapped each spring for syrup production. It’s this passion for agriculture that motivated the Evanses to conserve the property.
“Chesterfield is a good place to live. I have seen too many farms grow houses,” Lucky shared. “New Hampshire agriculture is rare and important. I’d like to see this land stay a hay field or a farm. I think it’s a choice for the future.”
The town’s master plan identified land along Route 63 as a top priority for conservation, since it anchors the scenic southern gateway into the village of Chesterfield. The property’s road frontage and open fields also gave it great development potential, and there once was an approved plan to subdivide and build there. Instead, thanks to Lucky and Barb’s choice to conserve, the agricultural land will stay intact.
“I want to keep the fields in Chesterfield,” Lucky said. “I hope people enjoy [the property], not just driving by, but to walk, snowshoe, or cross-country ski, too.”
The Evans farmland is protected by a conservation easement purchased by the Monadnock Conservancy, a land trust serving the Monadnock Region, in 2020. The purchase price of the easement was determined by an appraisal, which took into account the development potential of the land and the local real estate market at the time. To raise the funds needed to purchase easements, the Conservancy seeks a variety of federal, state, and private grant programs as well as town conservation funds and individual private donations. The Evans project was made possible by funding from the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Agricultural Land Easements program, New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), the Thomas W. Haas Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Town of Chesterfield, and anonymous donors.
Farmers often choose to conserve their land to ensure availability for farming into the future. By limiting future development potential, conservation also reduces land value, thereby ensuring affordability for future potential farmer-owners. When they sell a conservation easement, farmers may use the proceeds to reduce debt, invest in infrastructure, facilitate intergenerational succession, or simply fund a well-deserved retirement. Some land owners are willing and able to donate a conservation easement without compensation or sell it at a bargain price, either of which may qualify him or her for federal income tax benefits.
Farmland protection continues to be a top priority for the Monadnock Conservancy. To learn more about the Conservancy’s work, visit www.monadnockconservancy.org or call Pete Throop at (603) 357-0600 ext. 107.
Written by: Pete Throop
Conservation Project Manager
The Monadnock Conservancy