Prospect Hill Community Orchard, Harvard
Prospect Hill Orchard is made up of 75 stunning acres in Harvard. Since 2014, it has been owned and operated by Community Harvest Project, a nonprofit with a mission to engage volunteers in the fight against hunger. Since 2015, CHP has donated over 360,000 pounds of apples to food banks with the help of hundreds of volunteers.
Now, in an effort to protect this important piece of land and to ensure the future of this charitable work, a team of partners are working to raise funds to endow the orchard:
- Community Harvest Project (CHP)
- Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)
- Town of Harvard
- Harvard Conservation Trust (HCT)
The property will be protected through the sale of an agricultural preservation restriction (APR), which would permanently extinguish development rights on the property and allow farming to continue. It will be held jointly by MDAR and the Town of Harvard.
MDAR has already committed $1,239,000 toward the APR purchase. At the Town of Harvard's Annual Town Meeting on June 20, 2020, town residents voted to contribute $150,000 of Community Preservation Funds toward the purchase of the APR, and an additional $150,000 allocation is expected at the 2021 annual Town Meeting. CHP, HCT, and SVT will raise additional funds from private foundations and individuals.
CHP's board has developed a plan that includes anticipated uses of the proceeds from the sale of the APR. To read it, download Prospect Hill Community Orchard: Strategic Plan for APR Proceeds.
How can you help protect this important community resource?
- Spread the word to others: Download our project description and share it with friends and family!
- Donate to the project: SVT is assisting the effort to raise funds for the purchase.
Prospect Hill Orchard boasts excellent farmland soils, and has long been a priority for protection. It’s part of an extensive corridor of already protected land that includes Dean’s Hill, Fruitlands, and the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. A trail through the property will be available most of the year for public access for passive recreation such as hiking and bird watching.
How we will protect this land
The partnership has a goal of raising $2.5 million for the APR, roughly half of which would come from state and federal sources. Other potential sources of funding include the Town of Harvard, private foundations, and individuals.
This project has been an ongoing effort for many months, and an important step came at Harvard's Annual Town Meeting on June 20, 2020, when voters approved to spend $150,000 in Community Preservation Funds toward the purchase of the APR. This was followed, in October, 2020, by a commitment of $1,239,000 from MDAR. We anticipate that an additional $150,000 will be approved by the Town of Harvard at annual Town Meeting in the spring of 2021.
The partners will raise the remaining funds through private foundations and individuals. Due to the lengthy nature of APR projects, closing will not take place until spring 2022.