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West Newbury farm to be protected from development

A West Newbury farm will be permanently protected from development through a collaborative effort involving Greenbelt, the town, and Essex resident and farmer Chris Grant.

West Newbury and Greenbelt, an Essex County land trust, recently jointly acquired an agricultural preservation restriction on Brown Spring Farm, ensuring the Main Street property will be preserved as a farm in perpetuity.

By precluding development of the site, the restriction also allowed for the land to be sold at a price affordable to Grant, who subsequently purchased the property with plans to operate it, according to Vanessa Johnson-Hall, Greenbelt’s assistant director of land conservation.

The restriction was funded with $200,000 that West Newbury appropriated last spring from its Community Preservation Act revenues, and $203,500 that Greenbelt raised from private donors.


A graduate of University of Massachusetts Amherst, Grant, 29, has been running his family farm in Essex since he was 16 years old.

“This is something I’ve been working towards since I was in high school selling vegetables on the side of the road in front of my parents’ house,” he said in a statement about purchasing his own farm. “It’s a powerful feeling to know that Brown Spring Farm will always be a farm long after I’m gone. We can’t wait to meet the community that has been so supportive and make this place our home.”

As he prepares to begin farming the land, he is also planning to restore the farm stand and the farm house, working with his partner, Alice Tonry, a West Newbury native and co-owner of Tonry Tree Farm in southern New Hampshire.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.