Chestnut Hill Farm: Historic Barn being raised; Update on programs, Farm Stand and CSAs

Above: Sharing news on the rebirth of an historic Southborough barn on Chestnut Hill Farm land, plus updates on the farm’s store and planned programs this summer. (images L-R by Beth Melo and cropped from Facebook)

The Trustees of Reservations shared some details on the historic barn being raised on Chestnut Hill Farm. While they were at it, they threw in some more news about what’s happening at the farm this summer.

Deerfoot Barn relocated to Chestnut Hill Farm

Barn on Deerfoot from GoogleWhen developers sought to tear down a historic barn on Deerfoot Road, it triggered the Demolition Delay Bylaw. The Historical Commission used the opportunity to seek someone willing to save the barn. The Trustees of Reservations stepped up to salvage it. The barn is now in the process of being re-raised on Chestnut Hill Farm:

On May 27th, I joined the Trustees and some Town officials to check out the Barn Raising at the farm. We learned about some of the details, which are recapped in the press release below:

Barn timbers being raised - Chestnut Hill Farm - by Beth MeloThe barn is a late nineteenth century, Dutch-inspired, timber frame center-aisle structure that was originally housed on Deerfoot Road. The structure was brought to the attention of the Trustees by the Southborough Historic Commission. The Trustees purchased and saved the barn in 2019, dismantled it, and sent the timber frame to Antique Barn Company in New Hampshire for a piece-by-piece restoration to preserve the heart and soul of the structure and showcase the artistry and craftmanship of an earlier time. The company is now on-site and engaged in the reconstruction process which will rehome the barn and provide Chestnut Hill Farm with a year-round community gathering space for programming and special events.

“This is an incredibly exciting moment for us because it’s a project that has been in the works for a long time, and we’re so grateful to the community for its support,” said D.A. Hayden, Charles River Valley Portfolio Director at The Trustees. “The Deerfoot Barn represents the deep agricultural history of Southborough that lives on here at Chestnut Hill Farm.”

Originally erected in the 1890s, the gable-entrance, bank barn is 32 feet by 36 feet consisting of four bents and three bays and was used as a working agricultural barn well into the 1900s. The barn was originally built into the side of a hill for access on two levels, allowing door access above and below for both floors.

Dillon Williams of Antique Barn Company said the process to give a barn a second life is a complex and time-consuming one. After identifying all the parts, the frame is stripped and all impediments removed in order to get down to the bare timber frame. Then the pieces are disassembled and sent back to the shop in New Hampshire where the timber is cleaned, inspected, and modified as necessary. Finally, workers preassemble sections of the barn in New Hampshire before being transported to Chestnut Hill Farm for final re-erection.

CHF Events

The StoryWalk will continue through the summer daily. (No registration is required for that free option open to the public from Dawn to Dusk on the trails.)

Between the pandemic and construction, there haven’t been a slew of programs planned for the farm this summer yet. There is the monthly Nocturnal Wild Walks led by Tim Puopolo, a Trustees ranger and naturalist. You can learn more about, and register for the walks here.

They will also be offering Sunday Hikes for Goats, but unfortunately those are already sold out through the summer. (To sign up for one in the fall, click here.)

According to their press release “Additional and expanded programming, including popular Pre-School Farm Explorers and other farm and nature-based experiential education programs” will be announced in coming weeks. (You can check for those here.)

An encouraging sign is that the Trustees hired an Engagement Educator to focus on the farm full time. (Laura MacDonald is a one-time wolf educator at the International Wolf Center in Minnesota. She was most recently a traveling programs educator for the Museum of Science in Boston and, before that, an outdoor science instructor at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.)

Farm Stand and Meat CSA

Chestnut Hill Farm Stand from FacebookAlso sold out this summer is the farm’s Veggie and Fruit CSAs. However, the public will continue to be able to purchase produce (and other products) through the Farm Stand. And, good news, the stand reopened for in-person sales this week. The current hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 – 6:30 pm and Saturdays from 9:00 am-4:00 pm. (Those hours may be extended later in the season.)

Trustees members can also sign up for a Meat CSA Share which includes Summer Grill Pack, Fall Share, and Spring Share options. (The summer option will have a one-time pickup in July. So, don’t wait too long to act on that one.)

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