From busy Dale Street in North Andover, the Leonhard Farm presents a quiet pastoral landscape that vividly evokes New England’s deep agricultural roots.
Except for the goldenrod, New England asters, and native trees growing on its fringes, this farm land would not have been familiar to the Indigenous people who lived in this area. They would have been familiar with the American elm. Its bark and phloem had important medicinal uses.
The famous Hubbard Elm grew on the Foster Homestead, one of the earliest settlers in North Andover. The homestead later became the estate of J.M. Hubbard. The tree was 300 years old and 30 feet in circumference when it blew down in a storm in 1924.
The hundreds of drivers who now pass it each day see a bucolic farm first started by one of the town’s founding families and perhaps little changed from colonial days.
More than half of the property is mapped as having Prime and State Important Farmland Soils - designations reserved for the most productive soils in the country. The land also harbors a diversity of important wildlife habitat, from wetlands to upland forest, supporting such species as deer, coyote, foxes, raptors and songbirds. Wetlands are significant for rare wildlife, and also contribute to the headwaters of the Ipswich River.
While much of the property remains an active farm, Greenbelt and the Friends of North Andover Trails created a public trail from Bruin Hill Road through the Leonhards’ woodlands in North Andover and Boxford, offering scenic views of the freshwater wetland, forest, and historic granite markers on the North Andover/Boxford boundary.
Brothers Byron and George Leonhard had a conservation vision for their farm, and generously agreed to a below fair-market value sale of a conservation restriction (CR) on approximately 116 of their 127 acres in North Andover and Boxford. The CR allows the land to remain privately owned and managed as a working farm and woodland, safeguards critical wildlife habitat, and prevents any future non-agricultural development.
North Andover Community Preservation Act funds and private fundraising by Greenbelt ensured that this land will be forever preserved as a working farm and forest, including a new public trail for all to enjoy.
The public trail begins at the end of Bruin Hill Road in North Andover. The active farm remains private property.
Bruin Hill Road is off Winter Street. If you are heading toward Boxford on Dale Street, take a right onto Winter Street. If you are heading toward North Andover on Dale Street, turn left onto Winter Street. Bruin Hill Road is one-third of a mile on the left.
There is ample parking along Bruin Hill Road.
Town: North Andover Total Acres: 116 Year Conserved: 2018 Difficulty: Easy