Great Works protects fifth farmland property in Berwick.
With frontage on both Route 236 and Blackberry Hill Road, Lapierre Farm is blessed with high-quality fields–currently in hay production–upland forest, and forested wetlands. Its owner, Paul Lapierre, has been caring for the farm most of his life. He will continue to do so with the certainty that the land will forever remain available for farming and timber harvesting, activities he loves. On January 15, 2015, Paul and his wife Diana conveyed an agricultural conservation easement on their 69-acre farm in Berwick.
The family negotiated the transaction with Adam Bishop, Project Manager at Maine Farmland Trust (MFT), through their Purchased Easement Program. Darrell DeTour managed the project for Great Works Regional Land Trust, which was assigned the easement by MFT. A generous bargain sale by the Lapierres made the farm’s conservation possible.
“As I got older, I started thinking more and more of all the years I’ve cared for the land and that it would be nice to keep it that way,” Paul remarked. He involved his wife and daughters all the way.
“We’ve done all this, and how at peace this makes us feel that the land will stay beautiful,” said Diana, adding, “We enjoyed working with Adam and Darrell. They answered all our questions, and there were a lot of them.”
DeTour, who is Stewardship Coordinator for Great Works, spent several hours walking the property with Paul. “It’s such a beautiful setting. He keeps it in near picture-perfect condition, constantly repairing barbed wire fences, removing downed trees and brush, digging out invasive plants,” said DeTour. “And, he loves his trees – so much so that he refuses to attach barbed wire fencing to them. Rather, he takes the time and effort to cut, shape and install his own fence posts. Now that’s a labor of love.”
It’s a family affair. The Lapierre daughters Patty and Louise were raised on the farm. They fully support their parents’ decision. “I grew up on that farm. I know how hard my father has always worked and I have a sense of appreciation for and commitment to what he’s worked so hard for,” said Patty.
For her part, Louise hopes to do some farming of her own. “I am extremely happy and proud that our farm will always remain a farm. I find it a beautiful place to live and raise my children. Maybe when we are gone another family will have the pleasure to work the land as we did and it will bring joy to them as well.”
Paul’s sister Juliette lives in the farmhouse on the property. She shares the love of the land and Worster Brook, which runs through the property. Another sister, Rose, who also dearly loved the land, passed away in 2003. Born in the farmhouse on Rte. 236 seventy years ago, Paul started farming as a teenager. He began with the horses his father, who operated a forestry business in Middleton, N.H., pastured at the farm during the three months of “peeling season.” Eventually his father bought him an old Allis Chalmers tractor, and Paul helped with haying at neighboring Tibbetts Farm. He received two Holstein heifers in payment, and that started him in the livestock business. Later, Paul worked a full-time job while he, Diana and the girls built the farm. Together, they started a large garden, ran a small herd of Herefords, and cut the hay necessary for feed. These activities continue to this day.
Paul plans to use some of the proceeds from the easement transaction for much-needed repairs to the barn. Although he is retired, he says he works nearly as hard as he did throughout his career. He spends most of the summer, usually through two cuttings, putting up 1500-2000 bales of hay. He also cuts and splits enough firewood every year (some 22 cords) from the farm’s woodlots to heat three households throughout the winter. “I’m not going to live long enough to work my way through all the woodlots! Lots I cut 20-30 years ago are now ready to be cut again.”
“This is the fifth farmland property that Great Works has protected in Berwick,” noted Michael Wright, board member from Berwick who developed a relationship with the Lapierres. With the conservation easements on Lover’s Brook Farm, Tibbetts Farm, Wright Farm, and now Lapierre, plus the recent bequest of 90-acre Brooks Farm, there is a total of 569 acres of agricultural land conserved by Great Works in Berwick.