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Northampton, farmer Charles Jasinski agree to preserve 81 acres in Meadows

“We wanted it to stay this way. We wanted it like this forever,” Jasinski said. His father, William, died in 2007.

Jasinski and the city closed on a deal Thursday in which Jasinski granted an agriculture preservation restriction on 81.6 acres he owns in the Meadows.

The deal prohibits future development and includes an obligation to keep the farm in active production. That’s paramount to the Jasinskis, who have farmed the land for years.

“This is some of the best farmland in the country and it’s important to keep it that way,” Jasinski said. “My father is happy about this.”

The APR covers 78.5 acres on the east side of Interstate 91 along the Connecticut River, the largest portion of which is near the Northampton Airport.

Jasinski also bought a 3.5-acre parcel from the city, which acquired the land three years ago for back taxes, and this summer restored it to active agriculture after it had been fallow for two decades.

The city paid $73,500 to buy the APR from Jasinski, but part of that total was offset by selling the 3.5-acre parcel, said Wayne Feiden, director of the Office of Planning and Development. The money is drawn from Community Preservation Act funds already appropriated for agricultural preservation restrictions.

Feiden said keeping the farm in active production is a key part of the deal.

“This is especially important since we see one of the risks to farmland is simply allowing it to go fallow and have trees take over,” he said.

The deal is binding in perpetuity, regardless of who owns it in the future. For now, Jasinski will continue to own and farm it.

In a separate arrangement earlier this spring, Jasinski agreed to donate land to the city for a future Sheldon Field expansion, in exchange for a 22-year lease to farm the land.

The city’s immediate need for playing fields will be addressed with the development of Florence Fields and at Look Park, but with the scarcity of land for playing fields, officials want to keep long-term options open for future needs.

The deal is similar to a previous expansion at Sheldon Field in which Jasinski donated land partially in memory of his father.

Feiden said that though both the APR and Sheldon Field donations are business deals for Jasinski, they also support his world view of husbanding land for future generations.

“Charles is one of our heroes for his hard work and dedication, his work feeding us all and his vision for the future,” Feiden said in the press release.

Jasinski at one time was the city’s last remaining dairy farmer. Now he grows corn and hay on the land, something he intends to do for the foreseeable future.

The Agriculture Commission and the Conservation Commission jointly supported the deal and hope to work with other city farmers who want to permanently preserve their farmland.

Feiden encouraged landowners interested to contact him at wfeiden@northamptonma.gov.

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