Byline: Debbie LaPlaca
CHARLTON - When the town accepted a state grant to buy Fay Mountain Farm, one stipulation was it must produce a crop. Tenants of the farm did just that until they walked away in March, prompting the search for a new caretaker, which so far, has yielded no results.
"Everything ended amicably," Conservation Administrator Karen Gauvin said of the lease termination between the town and farm caretakers Richard and Donna Gilmore.
The Gilmores won a bid to operate the farm in April 2004 and entered into a five-year lease at $1,000 for the first year and $1,000 more each subsequent year.
Although the agreement wasn't due to expire until April 2009, the Gilmores relinquished their lease in March.
"There has been no caretaker at the farm. It's pretty much dormant at this stage," Ms. Gauvin said.
The historical 65-acre farm, off Cemetery Road north of Stafford Street, includes 32 acres of orchard, about 28 aces of natural open space for passive recreation, Snow Pond, and a historical barn.
The town bought the farm in 2002 with a $250,000 self-help grant from the state Division of Conservation Services and a $200,000 contribution from the Masonic Health System to meet its state requirement to maintain agricultural land.
The Conservation Commission was charged with oversight of the property, which includes meeting one grant stipulation to farm about 20 acres.
"We must produce a commercial product, whether it be hay or apples," Ms. Gauvin said. "We are entertaining all sorts of uses for the farm."
The town went out to bid to secure a new tenant, but when the Sept. 24 deadline arrived, no bids had been received.
Situated near the historic Militia Lot and Rider Tavern, the farm and barn are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The...