The South Kingstown Land Trust has received a 45-acre donation of farmland known as the Robinson Farm.
The farm is located near the center of Wakefield and is visible from Wood Lane and Pond Street. Approximately 20 acres of the property are woodland and the rest is either hay fields or pasture, according to Joanne Riccitelli, director of land protection.
The property’s fee title was transferred to the Land Trust in December from the Bowers family.
Jim Bowers said his family made the decision to donate the land partially to alleviate their responsibility to care for it, but also to protect it from future development. The land has been in his family for generations – his wife, Susie, is a descendent of the Robinson family, who settled the area in the 1600s.
“Most people don’t even know there’s a farm here – it’s a hidden gem,” Bowers said. “This is preserving it as farmland. If there was a building that went on it, that just doesn’t do anybody any good.”
The Land Trust now has the responsibility of maintaining stewardship over the farm in perpetuity. However, little will change as a result of the gift of fee title – the land will continue to be farmed as it has been, and there will not be public access to the property.
Ed Duffin, a North Kingstown farmer, maintains the land, and has signed a lease with the Land Trust to continue doing so, Riccitelli said.
“We’re very excited to have this opportunity,” she said. “I think it’s important to have a farm in town, so people can be connected to our rural past. People can walk by and see cows grazing and hay fields, and that kind of environment brings a great sense of peace to the community.”
In 2006, the Land Trust worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the town of South Kingstown to protect the Robinson Farm with conservation easements.
“It’s what land trusts do, to take care of the land far beyond our own lifetimes,” Riccitelli said. “Now we will be able to maintain stewardship over the farm when this farmer [Duffin] retires.”