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Land donated for conservation


Holyoke, MA – A religious order has donated 26 acres of land along the Connecticut River in Holyoke, Massachusetts to a conservation group. WAMC's Paul Tuthill reports...

Sister Elizabeth Oleksak of the Sisters of Providence says keeping the land in conservation for perpetuity is an extension of the order's 135 years of work. The sisters decided to donate the land to the not for profit conservation organization, the Trustees of the Reservation.

Roughly 70 percent of the 25 acre parcel is currently used for agriculture. The land is leased by the community farming organization, Nuestras Raices. That lease will continue, according to Josh Knox, who is the new superintendent of the Land of Providence. The food grown on the land can be found for sale at local farmers markets. Knox says it is an integral source of food for many people.

In addition to cultivating ethnic crops, the Nuestras Raices farm is also an incubator for people looking to make farming a career, or a second career in the case of Al Diaz, who is a firefighter in the city of Springfield. He had a vegetable garden for years, and now has decided to go commercial farming a quarter of an acre.

The property, now know as the Land of Providence, is off of Main Street in Holyoke, next to the Jones Ferry Marina. It extends for some two thousand feet along the river...although there is no access to the river because of a step embankment. There is a flood-plain forest and an open meadow. Jocelyn Forbush, the Pioneer Valley Regional Director of the Trustees of the Reservation, says they plan to improve public access to the site.

This is the third major acquisition by the Trustees of the Reservation in the Pioneer Valley in recent months. Forbush says the organization purchased 265 acres of fields and woods from the Bullett Estate in Ashfield and Conway and 156 acres on Mount Warner in Hadley.