The Norwood Farm is the most recent addition to the Foundation’s conservation holdings. This sprawling and iconic property is located in the Middle Moors, just north of Altar Rock and borders over 3,200 acres of extensive conservation holdings to the west, south, and east. A total of 220 acres have been protected in a joint partnership between the Foundation and the Nantucket Islands Land Bank Commission. Prior to conservation ownership, this property represented the largest unprotected, privately owned parcel remaining on Nantucket and was widely acknowledged as a top-priority open space objective. For many generations of islanders and visitors, the vast open space in the Middle Moors area epitomizes what is so special about Nantucket. As a result of this acquisition, the expansive views of undeveloped conservation land observed in every direction from the top of Altar Rock have now been preserved in perpetuity.
The Norwood Farm property in Polpis was owned by a family trust for more than 50 years. This long sought after property encompassed 240 acres. In December of 2012, the Foundation purchased 131 acres for $12.8 million and the Nantucket Land Bank Commission acquired 76 acres for $7 million. By exercising a limited-time option obtained at the time of its initial transaction, the Foundation was able to buy the remaining 12.5 acres from the trust for $2.5 million in September of 2015.
The Foundation and Land Bank properties are being cooperatively managed as protected open space that is open to the public for low impact recreational uses such as walking, bird watching and nature study. These areas also provide ideal opportunities for scientific research on habitat management techniques, rare plants and wildlife, and Native American and early settler land use.
From Milestone rotary, follow Milestone Road to the second left, onto Polpis Road. Follow Polpis Road for 3.5 miles to 237 Polpis Road (Old Polpis Road cut off by pond). Orange traffic cones will mark the turn off. Follow the cones to parking area.
One of the unique aspects of the Norwood Farm is the varied habitat types that can be found on the property, including forested uplands and wetlands, dense shrublands, freshwater bogs, kettlehole ponds, grasslands and heathlands. Wetlands in the northern portion of the property once supported some of the island’s earliest cultivated cranberry bogs, and the remains of the water management system in use during this period are still evident, including several channelized streams, bridges and culverts. Upland areas in the southern portion of the property were likely tilled for crop cultivation and grazed by livestock during the 1800 and 1900’s. These areas now support open grasslands and shrublands that are interspersed with several small kettlehole wetlands. The diverse types of habitats present on the property support at least 18 rare species that are currently protected under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, including 5 plants, 13 moths and 1 bird of prey. A series of walking trails traverse the property, and plans are underway for the development of a parking area and trail map to encourage pedestrian access.
Purchased by NCF