MEREDITH — Picnic Rock Farms on Route 3 was voted third best farm stand in New Hampshire this summer by WMUR’s Viewer’s Choice, and Moulton Farm was voted number five. These two farms have conservation easements that preserve their land for agricultural use in perpetuity.
Moulton Farm was conserved in 1990 through the town of Meredith's purchase of a conservation easement. The farm’s 88.4 acres were conserved with a $150,000 grant from the New Hampshire Land Conservation Investment Program, a precursor to the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program. Picnic Rock Farms was conserved in 2004.
The purchase of a conservation easement on a farm provides the landowner with money that can be used to improve the farm. At Picnic Rock Farms, the sale of the easement provided the owner with $720,000, used to improve the farm’s capabilities and the farm stand that is in use today.
The Meredith Conservation Commission applied for grants for the purchase of the Picnic Rock conservation easement. Grant funds came from LCHIP, the Federal Farm and Ranchlands Protection Program, and the Federal Scenic Byways Program. The town also contributed tax dollars to the purchase.
Picnic Rock Farms' 125 acres, formerly known as Longridge Farm, is owned by John Hodsdon and has been farmed by his family since 1801. It was the first registered farm stand in New Hampshire, and is currently managed by Ward Bird and family, the seventh and eighth generation of the Hodsdon family. Bird built the new farm stand himself. He was in the construction business before joining the family farm full-time.
The farm stand provides space for locally-produced products. The bakery is in the original farmhouse built in 1769, the second oldest historic building in Meredith.
The conservation easement on Picnic Rock preserves the structural integrity of the farmhouse and barn and their external appearance. The wording of the rest of the easement prevents subdivision and development of the farmland and forested open space and most types of commercial development on the property. The name Picnic Rock came from a large boulder on the property where people would gather.