Conservation Lands at The Community School
When the old Perkins Farm was purchased by The Community School, the historic property was immediately put under conservation easement, with only a small percentage of buildable land left out for expansion. The easement allows agricultural uses, including the construction of farm-related structures, like our new farm stand or animal housing. We maintain trails for public use, permit hunting and fishing (though the areas directly surrounding the school house are posted as a reminder to hunters that kids may be out and about), and encourage animal trackers, Nordic skiers and other winter enthusiasts to enjoy the property. The easement does restrict recreational, non-farm related motorized vehicles–atvs, snow machines, and the like–from the fields and forests. We currently have just under 340 acres, 316 of which are protected in perpetuity.
Local conservation organizations have determined that our parcels are essential to a vital movement protecting a mosaic of habitat between the Ossipee and Sandwich Ranges, allowing wildlife to move freely between two wild zones and minimizing the dramatic destruction of natural resources by regional development. The grow/cut cycles we’ve established help to maximize the potential for species’ health and protection.
Properly managed field borders increase plant diversity and the availability of food sources, such as seeds and insect prey, for Bobwhite quail, rabbit, wild turkeys, fox and many other birds and mammals. Field borders that are part of a network of habitat which included forested areas, grasslands, and a variety of crops are likely to attract a wider range of wildlife. Because are field edges have reached a peak efficiency for the type of habitat we’re cultivating, over the next three years we’ll be doing some work to cut back the edges; do comprehensive mowing; plant native edibles, like elderberry; maintain our young heritage apple orchard; transplant native low bush blueberries into our spent gravel pit; and work on timber stand improvement cuts.
Beaver Brook Parcel Conserved
In late 2010, a group of active citizens with deep roots in the Bearcamp River Valley banded together to purchase the Beaver Brook Parcel owned by local farmer, Bob Floyd. The land was donated to The Community School, which will act as its steward in perpetuity. This rich habitat, with frontage on Routes 25 and 113, is home to many species of interesting plants and animals, and adds to the protected land forming a natural by-way for migration between the Ossipee and Sandwich Ranges. The terms for use of this land remain consistent with TCS’ agricultural easement on the Perkins Farm. Our school sign, a beautiful timber frame built by the Varney family, holds pride of place along the road side on the Beaver Brook Parcel.
Partnerships with Natural Resources Conservation Services
For years now, we have partnered with NRCS to tackle conservation projects which improve our land, while providing habitat for native flora and fauna. We clear trails, make timber stand improvements, mow our fields, plant native species to tempt wildlife (who share with us), build bird and bat houses, and reclaim spent sections of terrain. Some of this work is subcontracted by professionals, but much of it is done as part of our science curriculum, stewardship classes, or community service. The students gain a real love of place when they not only watch the patterns of growth and change over time, but work hard to keep Mother Nature in check!
White pine forests account for approximately 260 acres of our property. Students have, through our forestry programs, worked with the state cooperative extension office, local foresters and sawyers, and local universities to identify species, monitor growth and disease, map and rebuild habitat, and harvest wood for use in various school building projects, including a timber frame farm stand classroom and a traditional Piscataqua Wherry water taxi.