Save the Santos Farm Committee Members (L to R) , Spinner Findlay, Pam Trippe, Tim Vanech, Campaign Chair Tina Schmid, Wendy Goldberg, Trip Millikin
On December 18th, the Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) acquired the 125-acre Santos Farm on Main Road, step one of this two-part project. WLCT entered into an agreement with the four Santos brothers to save this farm in January. Since then, WLCT has raised over $5 million in public and private funds to protect this farm; one of Westport’s largest unprotected working farms and WLCT’s largest project to date. Saving the Santos Farm protects significant prime farmland, preserves Westport’s natural resources and water quality, and facilitates the continuation of Westport’s agricultural economy through the protection and resale of farmland.
The Santos Farm is known for its iconic gambrel barn, open pasture and livestock. The Santos family has owned its farm on Main Road farm since 1947. After three generations of farming this land, the four brothers decided to sell it and listed it for sale in August 2019. WLCT negotiated the purchase of the farm in January 2020, along with the protection of another 11-acre parcel (on Adamsville Road), for a total project cost of $5.1 million.
Early on in the project WLCT received a donation of $2.5 million from an anonymous donor. The community stepped up to the challenge of this project in a major way, with over 160 families contributing over $1 million to save this farm.
“WLCT embarked on this project at the beginning of the global pandemic, a most uncertain time to start a large project,” stated WLCT board president Trip Millikin. “Yet, the community has come together and rallied around the protection of this iconic farm. We are so very thankful to everyone who has supported this project through their donations, Town Meeting votes, and words of support.”
The Westport Board of Selectmen approved a $500,000 grant from the Westport Agricultural/Open Space Bond in January of 2020, and Westport Town Meeting approved a $500,000 grant from the Community Preservation Act Fund at its July 25, 2020 Town Meeting. WLCT also received a Conservation Partnership Grant from the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. In addition, WLCT received a grant from the Massachusetts Waterfowler’s Association to support the acquisition.
“Westport voters have a long history of supporting the protection of Westport’s rural character and farming community,” stated Westport’s Board of Selectmen Chair, Richard Brewer. “I am proud of this private-public partnership that has come together to save such an important piece of Westport’s rural heritage.”
Westport voters have a long history of supporting the protection of Westport’s rural character and farming community. I am proud of this private-public partnership that has come together to save such an important piece of Westport’s rural heritage.
The Town of Westport and WLCT will hold a conservation restriction on 80 acres of the farm to ensure the property’s permanent protection and to require its productive, prime soils stay in active agriculture. WLCT will then resell the 80 acres to an established and experienced farm family through a request for proposal process. That process will open on December 21st and WLCT will accept proposals until February 12, 2021.
WLCT will establish a price that will reflect the property’s (reduced) value as a protected farm with farm buildings and a house. The farm can never be subdivided, and additional houses cannot be built. The future owners must also continue to farm the land.
According to Ross Moran, WLCT’s executive director, “The Santos Farm has a long history of agriculture. WLCT is looking for a new owner who has the proven experience, knowledge, and commitment to farming in the Westport community.”
The remaining 45 acres will be added to WLCT’s Herb Hadfield Conservation Area (HHCA). This land includes forestland, wetlands and critical buffer for Angeline and Dunham’s brooks, two ecologically important cold water streams in Westport. WLCT will build trails on this 45-acre parcel to connect to the existing HHCA trail system, and continue to productively use the 12-acre cropland in partnership with a local farmer.
If you are an established and experienced farmer interested in purchasing the 80 acres of protected farmland in 2021, please visit WLCT’s website at www.WestportLandTrust.org/sherman-hill-farm-resale/ for all information pertaining to the process, and the application to submit a proposal.