Barker’s Farm is located on busy Route 33 in Stratham and is one of the region’s most productive vegetable farms with a long history of serving the region. Undoubtedly local food lovers have stopped at the farmstand for their own fresh corn or picked up their favorite veggies at the Exeter Farmer’s Market. And mountain bikers and hikers in the Stratham Hill Park have unwittingly crossed the forestland of Barker’s Farm as part of the public trail network.
It is fitting that this year the Barker Family has agreed to permanently conserve the farm, for 2017 marks Barker’s Farm 100th year. Purchased back in 1917 by Willard Barker, the third generation of Barkers built a small farm stand in the 1960s and primarily operated the farm as a truck farm, growing produce and bringing it to Portsmouth by truck to sell. By 1985, Gordon Barker and his wife Edie built a new farm stand, adding greenhouses and outbuildings, and increasing the farmed land from 10 to 40 acres. Sadly, Gordon, a leader of conservation efforts in Stratham, died unexpectedly from a heart attack in 2009. Edie now manages the farm with assistance from their daughter Forrest.
The 90-acre Barker’s Farm will be conserved through conservation easements held by SELT. Many thanks are due to the Barker Family for their agreement to sell the conservation easement for $675,000 less than its appraised value, a generous act showing their commitment to keeping farmland for the future!
Stratham’s Town Meeting on March 17th 2017 voted unanimously to appropriate the requested $400,000 to support the Barker’s Farm easement. SELT has submitted a grant application for the matching funds from the federal Agricultural Land Easement program, and remains hopeful the project will be awarded matching funds. Check in for more details in the coming months.