GROTON — Sponsored by the town’s Historical Commission, planners are poised to launch the latest survey of local assets covering Groton’s agricultural heritage.
Following in the footsteps of earlier surveys of the town’s historic, architectural and archeological sites, the Historical Commission earlier this year moved on the final piece of its inventory effort by approaching the CPC (Community Preservation Committee) for funding to help pay for a survey of agricultural sites in Groton.
An amount of $35,000 was requested and duly approved by residents at this year’s Annual Town Meeting and an outline for the survey drawn up.
When completed, the agricultural survey would include an inventory of structures and landscapes as they relate to the town’s history as an agricultural community.
“It’s part of an ongoing process of historical documentation,” Historical Commission member Michael Roberts has said. “This is just another piece of that.”
Stressing the importance of the survey for future use by town planners in smart development of the town, commission Chairman Al Collins called it and other surveys of historical structures “essential studies” in order to preserve Groton’s heritage.
In a statement released by the Historical Commission explaining the survey project, a more detailed explanation for the need of an agricultural survey followed a brief history of the town as a farming community.
“The preservation and management of agriculture and agricultural landscapes begins with recognizing farms as a vibrant and diverse historic asset that has helped to shape the character of this town,” reads the statement. “This proposed project will develop a historic agricultural context for Groton and the Northern Middlesex region which will be used to evaluate the significance of agricultural sites and features throughout Groton.
“Historic agricultural resources will be located through a wide range of research techniques and evaluated within the developed context according to Massachusetts Historic Commission standards and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation recommendations for significance (sic) and management of these resources,” the statement continued. “The project will document Groton’s agricultural past through to our present agricultural activities so that moving forward, researchers, educators, planning departments, and historians will have a comprehensive history of Groton’s agricultural heritage from 1655 to 2010.”
Among the items to be covered by the survey are identification and documentation of existing and former historic agricultural sites, documentation on how historic sites relate to the town’s settlement and subsequent history, identification and documentation of current agricultural activity in town, creation of an agricultural overlay that can be integrated with the town’s GIS system, identification of landscapes and viewscapes that can be protected from development, identification of ways and means that can be used to protect agriculture in town, and the creation of an educational program for the schools dealing with the town’s agricultural heritage.
“The evolution of these agricultural factors that have shaped our town’s character and landscapes need to be researched and documented to better understand how we can plan Groton’s future in a way that retains these delicate agricultural threads in our community’s complex fabric,” concluded the statement.
Hired to conduct the survey was the Oakfield Research Group, which will proceed, among other things, to interview local farmers and owners of horse farms and other animal husbandry operations.
As partners in the survey effort, the Agricultural Commission lost no time in discussing ways to reach out to the local agricultural community. Work on the agricultural survey itself is expected to extend well into 2011.