Princeton Land Trust, Mass Audubon Team Up To Save Farm Bordering Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary

Release Date:
June 16, 2015

PRINCETON—Mass Audubon and the Princeton Land Trust have secured an option to purchase Fieldstone Farm, located adjacent to Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in Princeton. Also known as the Smith Farm, the 300-acre agricultural property on Hubbardston Road is a local landmark, and includes an 18th-century farmhouse, fields, woods, and wetlands.

The option gives the two conservation organizations until June of 2016 to meet the $3 million purchase price.

The goal of the project is to protect as much of the vulnerable property as possible. Eventual ownership may be divided among several public, nonprofit, and private parties, including a farmer.

“This gives us an opportunity to conserve a key parcel in our town,” said Tom Sullivan, President of the Princeton Land Trust. “The question is whether we can find enough conservation-minded partners and donors to make it possible.”

Sullivan explained that they will begin a dialogue with the town and the public about this important opportunity. Supporters have already spoken with state agencies and other potential partners, and will begin to finalize plans and seek commitments. A broad-based fundraising campaign to raise a portion of the purchase price will commence later this year.

The community-based land trust and Mass Audubon plan to work with the town and local residents on possible limited residential development as part of an overall plan that will focus on agriculture, trails, and wildlife habitat.

“This is very exciting,” said Wachusett Meadow Director Deb Cary, who also serves on the town’s Open Space Committee. “The townspeople of Princeton have listed this property in the Open Space Plan as one of the top sites for protection since we first began open space planning in 2000.  It has beautiful and productive agricultural fields and yet with all that road frontage, it is very vulnerable to development.

“This farm is part of what makes Princeton what it is,” Cary added. “In response to surveys conducted both for the Open Space and Recreation Plan as well as the ‘Town Plan,’ residents have consistently voiced their support for farming to continue here. There are adjacent woodlands with forests, streams, and wonderful wildlife habitat for people to enjoy as well.

“But we’re going to need a lot of help to succeed,” she stressed.  

Fieldstone Farm is owned by three brothers, Charles, James, and Jonathan Smith, who inherited it from their mother Ruth when she passed away in 2010. It has been owned since 1944 by the Smith family, who operated it first as a dairy farm and later raised pigs. In recent years, the fields have been cut for hay.


Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 140,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at