Epping Planning Board granted Site Plan Approval to Allen & Major Associates, Inc. (A&M) for a proposed live-work program for Farmsteads of New England. A&M is providing land survey, civil engineering, permitting, and landscape architecture to Farmsteads of New England, a non-profit entity that provides services for adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Founded in 1999, by Deborah DeScenza, Farmsteads of New England started their first working farm in Hillsborough, NH in 2003. That operation continues successfully today and was expanded to include an Epping location in 2009. In 2017, Farmsteads purchased land at 38 Plumer Road with the hope of expanding their program. The Plumer Road project capitalizes on the farming potential for this property and will also be able to offer residences for those who want to live and work on-site. This live-work environment is an innovative paradigm that creates a community that gives the residents the chance to be independent while also having support as needed. The residents sell goods either which they have grown or made by hand at their mobile farm stand or online store. They also care for small livestock that lives on the farm. The work is providing essential life skills including mathematics, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills as well as the satisfaction of working to accomplish a task.
The overall site plan includes eight single-story buildings each with 4 studio size units, a barn, and a greenhouse. A new site driveway will be constructed with parking spaces in front of each unit and an overflow parking area along the edge of the road. During the planning, the land survey crew unearthed a fieldstone wall which was incorporated into the landscape design along with the preservation of large growth trees. The remainder of the landscape will blend the existing agricultural setting into the new buildings and entrance drive. Additional Red Maples are proposed to line the entrance road and drive to the residences. Native seed mixes for wildflowers and grasses are specified for the drainage systems. The residents will be maintaining their own homes so the landscape around them was designed to be easy to care for native species with flowering shrubs, trees, and pollinator-friendly perennials.
The show of community support for the project was appreciated by A&M Senior Project Manager, Brian Jones, PE. “Having a resource available in New Hampshire to support people and families who age-out of traditional school programs is an incredible forward-thinking step”. “The project is still being permitted at the State level and construction is dependent on Farmsteads getting the necessary funding. Deborah is actively applying for grants to see this vision to fruition so I will remain hopeful”.
A&M worked closely with Farmsteads and provided a portion of our fees as pro bono as part of A&M’s continuing support for persons with Autism. For more information on the program or how to support the mission, visit https://www.farmsteads-ne.org/