When Ausbon Sargent was presented with the opportunity to purchase and protect the Messer Farm property along Little Sunapee Road in New London, the fundraising began. There was an outpouring of support from the community. There was even support from those who had moved away but whose recollections of the farm and the fields held a special place within their hearts. The property was purchased by the Land Trust on October 30, 2020.
The open fields, some of the last in town, provide stunning views of Mt. Kearsarge as you drive south along Route 114 heading into New London. These 22-acres of prime soils are leased currently by Spring Ledge Farm to grow local produce. Spring Ledge owner, Greg Berger, explains that “These great soils were created over the millennia, with characteristics you just can’t replace. From a growing standpoint, an acre in one of these fields is quite different from an acre somewhere else in town. Well-drained soils, few stones, great tilth and gentle slopes are why these fields are designated as “Prime Farmland” by the Soil Conservation Service. Protecting this land from development insures access to local food production which translates into a more resilient community.”
In addition to the agricultural benefits on this property, there are also 122 acres of woodland which sustains natural wildlife habitat, offers a vast network of footpaths, and holds the headwaters of White Brook, which feeds into Pleasant Lake. Adjacent conserved properties, including the Spring Ledge Farm conservation land and the Kidder-Cleveland property offer established trails suitable for walking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
Jacob Messer cleared the fields that are a part of this property over 200 years ago with the intent to pasture animals and provide hay for winter feed. His descendants have followed in his footsteps through the generations, taking care of the land which, in turn, took care of them. It has seen a multitude of uses in addition to growing fruits and vegetables, including the raising livestock, the harvesting of timber, sugaring, and baling hay. It is now Ausbon Sargent's turn to take over the care of this special piece of property. We will encourage the continuance of responsible agricultural farming, and will maintain and protect the woodlands and wetlands, streams and wildlife habitats that are present on the property.