Hurd Farm Fete

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, August 19, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

Three-year-old Alexandra Szynal cautiously approaches a "very big" cow while visiting the Hurd Farm in Hampton Wednesday morning. [Photo by Jay Reiter]

HAMPTON -- Local officials and residents gathered at the Hurd Farm on Wednesday morning celebrating that Hampton's last dairy farm will forever remain as farmland and open space.

The event was sponsored by the Trust for Public Land, which facilitated a conservation effort between the town and members of the Hurd family.

The celebration came on the heels of the land being put into conservation easement in May.

The town got the ball rolling on the project in 2004 when it approved a $2 million bond to buy the development rights of the Hurd Farm .

That bond, combined with numerous grants including a $500,000 grant from the federal Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Project and additional $400,000 grant from the farmland protection program, allowed the town to protect the 155 acres of land along the Taylor River in Hampton and Hampton Falls.

The $3 million also allowed the Hurd family, which at the time was financially strapped, to continue to run and operate the farm.

Selectmen Chairman Jim Workman thanked the taxpayers of Hampton for approving the bond.

"I remember taking my daughter Nicole fishing at the Taylor River," said Workman. "And now we will be able to do that with her children and forever. I think that is a wonderful thing."

U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, who played a role in securing the grants to help offset the cost for Hampton taxpayers, was also in attendance.

"It's really extraordinary," said Gregg. "It's actually one of the few projects where the federal dollars are dwarfed by the community dollars. The town of Hampton can take a lot of pride."

Warren Hatch, regional director and vice president of the Trust for Public Land, thanked the Hurds.

Selectman Cliff Pratt said this is a day he will always remember.

"The family, in a sincere expression of their desire to continue the farming tradition on the land, agreed to enter into a contract with the Trust for Public Land to sell their development rights for significantly less than their appraised value," said Hatch.

The property was assessed at more than $7 million.

"When you get elected selectman, you have great expectations about changing things," said Pratt. "Then you realize you're only passing through the office. You try to make decisions that are good for the community. This is a decision I'm most proud of. This is wonderful for Hampton. I get emotional when I talk about it. I'm a farmer at heart."

A teary-eyed Pratt thanked the Hurds for making this a reality.

"Steven and Kevin (Hurd), if your father was here today, he would be very proud of you," said Pratt.

Sheryl Hurd, who was nominated by the family to be its spokeswoman, said she was grateful to the town and the Trust for Public Land.

"We are so grateful," said Hurd. "Your hard work has given us the opportunity to continue operating this as a working dairy farm. It has been in our family for three generations now and it would have been sad to have to give it up."

She urged members of the crowd to take in the sights, sounds and smells of what they had worked so hard to preserve for future generations.

"I think we've got something good going on here," Hurd said.

She gave a framed picture of the farm with a rainbow in the background to Town Manager James Barrington to hang in the town offices.

"I'm going to refer to this as a map," said Hurd. "Some people don't really know where the Hurd Farm is. I thought a good thing to tell them is to just take a right at the rainbow."

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