Dedicated to protecting the land essential to Sheffield’s natural, scenic, agricultural and rural character
The Sheffield Land Trust
Celebrating 25 years • 1989-2014
P.O. Box 940, 96 Main St., Sheffield, MA 01257-0940
Phone: 413 229-0234; Fax: 413 229-0239;

River Lea Farm
Agricultural Preservation Restriction

This APR is part of a larger farm transfer project where the Aragi Family of Pine Island Farm is going to be purchasing River Lea Farm from the Brunnschweiler family to add it as a critical resource to their dairy operation. The Aragis have been talking with the Brunnschweilers about this for years but the expense was just too great, so the Sheffield Land Trust is thrilled to be able to bring the APR into the mix to be able to facilitate both the protection of the land and the stabilization of this important local farm. Due to health, estate planning and retirement needs, the Brunnschweilers needed to either sell the farm or the development rights. The open flat river land that has made the farm’s acreage so valuable for farming since early in Sheffield’s history also makes it extremely desirable as home sites – particularly with the views across the river to the mountains. The size, soils and location provide versatility and without permanent protection in place the land would not only pass out of the family but out of agriculture. With Sheffield’s close proximity to both Manhattan and Boston, Sheffield continues to be a destination for second home development – with our local market tending to plateau rather than drop too much in price. So, farmers can’t afford the land prices and are being outbid by those looking to build homes. The farm, being open land with spectacular views across the field and the Housatonic River to Mt. Everett and the entire Taconic Mountain range, is particularly desirable. Especially with the extensive frontage and easy access off a paved road and just a short distance to the center of town and major highways, River Lea farm is extremely vulnerable to conversion. While the next generation of Brunnschweilers is not farming, the next generation of Aragis is (making it four generations now part of Pine Island Farm), and with grain prices as high as they are adding this farm to Pine Island’s dairy operation is essential for its long-term sustainability. The Aragis have been driving up to an hour away in other states to find land to meet its needs. The Aragis are doing everything that they can to diversify income and cut costs, including purchasing the house that goes with River Lea Farm to make it into housing for two of their farm labor families (working with USDA’s Rural Development Program), and putting in an anaerobic digester to turn their manure into energy, create their own bedding and enhance the environmental quality of the farm. Protecting this farm and facilitating this transfer is not only important in and of itself, but also to stabilize the landscape and strengthen the surrounding farms, farming infrastructure and community. The window of opportunity to protect this valuable agricultural, scenic and economic resource is now. We’re raising $150,000 toward the local share of this $1 million Agricultural Preservation Restriction.To make a contribution or pledge, please print and mail our donation or pledge form. Contributions to SLT are tax-deductible. Thank you!