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Emily Everett: If a farm owns the land, it is not public land



Wednesday, February 19, 2014
To the editor:

I have read with interest the Gazette’s coverage of the dispute between farmers and the public (or the city, as it may be) about access to land in the Meadows. As someone who spent much of last summer jogging on the dirt roads that bisect the cornfields, but who also grew up on a farm, I originally felt divided. I had thought that these were city roads. Now that I know otherwise, I certainly feel no entitlement to access them for my own enjoyment. It is no one’s responsibility to provide me, or any other member of the public, with space or access to do the things I enjoy.

Farms are complicated properties, since they often serve as both a home and a business. My family’s farm is lucky enough to be in a more rural area, but we still dealt with many trespassers over the years, who felt a right to cut our fences and use the farmland for their recreation. Those who asked permission to hunt, hike or snowmobile on the land were usually granted it. To me, the fact that the Meadows’ roads “have been used by the public for years” doesn’t mean that they are now public.

Groups that would like to access the parts of the Meadows that are privately owned have a responsibility to ask permission of the farm association, and to abide by the answer. I look forward to the resolution of this dispute, and I will keep my running shoes on whichever roads are then decided to be public.

Emily Everett

Northampton