Sweetwilliam Farm (2011)

Whitney Conservation Area & Sweetwilliam Farm Update 01/07/2014

The town-owned Whitney Conservation Area is now fully open to the public. Trails are established on both the east and west sides of North Street. Public parking off of North Street accommodating up to six cars is open. Parking is allowed to the right of the entry and driveway as you pull in.

Some of the trails still need to be blazed and trail signs installed. A grant awarded by the Recreational Trails Program will help with signage on the trails, and kiosk installation at trailheads. Work is to begin in 2014. This will make the network of North Upton conservation areas easily identified and accessible from six trailheads.

Support from the Metacomet Land Trust helped the Upton Land Stewardship Committee raise over $15,000 to construct fencing and a parking lot at the Whitney Conservation Area. Donors included over 30 individuals and the following organizations: the Worcester Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club, Bay State Trails Riders Association, the Grafton Land Trust, and the Metacomet Land Trust. The Land Stewardship Committee is grateful to all for their support and the support of volunteers who helped with fundraising and trail work.

Sweetwilliam Farm Update June 10, 2012

The preservation of Sweetwilliam Farm was completed on June 21, 2011. 63 acres are now owned by the town and 35 acres remain in private ownership, protected by a conservation restriction. The town received a $500,000 reimbursement from the LAND Grant program in July of 2011. The town-owned portion of the farm, the Whitney Conservation Area, is open to the public. Trails are established on the eastern portion of the Whitney Conservation Area. Work on trails on the west side of North Street and construction of a parking lot is planned for the summer and fall of 2012. The Land Stewardship Committee has applied for a trails grant from the state, with notice of awards expected by July 2012.

Sweetwilliam Farm Update January 12, 2011

Town Meeting voted to preserve the property using Community Preservation Funds and to accept the $500,000 grant awarded to Upton for the project by the state's Division of Conservation Services. The next steps are to finalize all of the relevant agreements, including the conservation restriction and easements, survey the property, prepare a baseline report, and continue fundraising. The project is expected to close by mid-June. There is a link to the presentation made to Town Meeting below.

Sweetwilliam Farm Update December 19, 2010

The citizens' petition was successful in getting enough signatures to place an article on a Special Town Meeting warrant to preserve this property using CPA funds and a state grant. The meeting was set for January 11, 2011 at 7 pm. 

Sweetwilliam Farm Update November 5, 2010

During their October meeting the CPA committee voted to send the Sweetwilliam Farm Proposal to the November Special Town meeting warrant. The Upton Board of Selectmen declined to place the articles on the warrant. Since that time, the Upton Open Space Committee has been notified that they will receive a Massachusetts LAND grant in the amount of $500,000 toward the purchase price of the property. A citizen's petition has been prepared to call a special town meeting with an article on the warrant to purchase the property using CPA funds and grants. The petition requires 200 signatures from registered Upton voters. If the petition is certified by the Town Clerk, the selectmen must call a special town meeting within 45 days.

Sweetwilliam Farm Update September 24, 2010

The Upton Open Space Committee and the owner of Sweetwilliam Farm have agreed on a proposal that provides the Town of Upton the opportunity to preserve this exquisite property. Committee members have been working with Sudbury Valley Trust, Metacomet Land Trust, and the owner to preserve this historic farmland and forest. The property would link the town-owned Warren Brook Watershed Conservation Area with Upton State Forest, which in turn connects to open space parcels in Grafton and Hopkinton. If conserved, Sweetwilliam Farm would be part of a complex of over 2,000 acres of protected land and extend a trail network used by horseback riders, hikers, cyclists, skiers, birders, and others who enjoy the outdoors.Sweetwilliam is a working farm preserving what little remains of Upton's agricultural history, retaining the characteristics of a farm from the mid-1700s. The land was once owned by the grandfather of Eli Whitney and the 18th-century farmhouse was built by his cousin, a Revolutionary War veteran. The proposal is for the town to purchase 60 acres of woodland and purchase a Conservation Restriction (CR) on most of the remaining land, which would remain in private ownership. The CR would allow for farming to continue, preserving the agricultural heritage of the land, but precluding development of the property. The spectacular view from North Street would be protected. Easements would provide east-west trail access and parking for 5 cars at the store. The owner would maintain the land and continue to pay taxes. Preservation funding would be sought from grants, private donations, and the Community Preservation Act funds, with no increase in taxes to Upton citizens. The Open Space Committee will be making a final presentation to the Community Preservation Committee on October 6 at 7:30 pm at Nipmuc High. The public is invited to attend.

The fate of one of Upton's few remaining farms is currently uncertain. Sweetwilliam Farm is at risk of being developed and the Open Space Committee is proposing to use Community Preservation Act funds, grants, and private donations to purchase a Conservation Restriction (CR) to protect this beautiful property on North Street.

Sweetwilliam is a working farm preserving what little remains of Upton's agricultural history. Established by an uncle of Eli Whitney and farmed by the Whitney Family from the mid-1750s through the late 1800s, the 92-acre farm offers one of Upton's most spectacular vistas, a dramatic view of Upton's highest hill, and a centuries-old pasture sloping towards Warren Brook.

The significance of this land lies not only in the view and its history but as a one-mile-long trail corridor connecting Upton State Forest and the Warren Brook Conservation Area, both of which connect to open space parcels in neighboring towns. If conserved, Sweetwilliam Farm would be part of a complex of over 2,000 acres of protected land, creating an extensive trail network for use by horseback riders, hikers, cyclists, skiers, birders, and others who enjoy the outdoors.

Ideally, a Conservation Restriction (CR) would be placed on all of the land except the residences and the country store. The CR would allow for farming to continue and to preserve the agricultural heritage of the land. In addition, it would provide for public access for passive recreation and a public parking area. The owner agrees to farm and maintain the land and continues to pay taxes. Options exist for the purchase of some of the land should a CR not be practical on all of it, but a CR remains the most practical and least expensive way for the town to protect the farm and have access to a trail network.

Under the current proposal, the CR would not raise taxes. The funding would come from grants, private donations, and money already collected under the Community Preservation Act.

Upton has an unparalleled opportunity. We are frighteningly close to losing Sweetwilliam Farm to development and encourage anyone who has traveled along North Street and been struck by the beauty of this parcel to contribute in whatever way possible.

The committee is working with the Sudbury Valley Trustees and other partners to preserve this 92-acre historic farm. 

Sweetwilliam Farm Preservation Proposals

Conservation Restriction Information

Chestnut Hill Farm, Town of Southboro (CR Example

Sweetwilliam Farm