Agriculture has always been a significant part of West Bridgewater’s history. In 1865 there
were 145 working farms, with extensive strawberry cultivation, dairy, and poultry farming
as the mainstays. In 2002, the Anderson Farm on River and Howard Streets was the only
remaining dairy farm in the town. The Massachusetts Historical Commission recommends
it for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
Established in 1952 as the Nuncketeset Dairy, this farm was created by joining two
adjacent, centuries-old farmsteads with other dwellings, a collection of outbuildings, plus
additional agricultural land. The farm has a long history that extends back to the oldest
surviving house in town – ca. 1662 – built for the first minister in Old Bridgewater, the
Reverend James Keith. The National Register of Historic Places 2002 Criteria Statement
‘The Anderson Farm is the only remaining dairy farm in West Bridgewater and the only
farm that retains evidence of a long and continuous farming tradition in its dwellings,
agricultural fields, and remnants of the farm buildings, all situated overlooking the Town
River. The farm retains integrity of location and setting. The sense of rural design
responsive to the farming use is retained. While some materials and evidence of
workmanship have been changed in some resources there is an overall sense of original
materials and workmanship. The farm retains integrity of feeling and association as well.”
As you drive along Route 106 or on River Street, you can see the farm’s fields, the red
barn, and the cows that are at the heart of the dairy operation.
The Anderson dairy farm has been in Richard Anderson’s family for an astounding 14
generations since 1643. In the last few years the brothers have accepted the reality that
their offspring did not carry a strong interest in farming due to the grueling work and
meager earnings. With retirement on the horizon, donating the farm outright was not an
option and the thought of the land possibly being sold to developers was heartbreaking.
As a result they turned to the Wildlands Trust to help them plan for the future. The
Wildlands Trust worked with the Andersons for two years strategizing about options and
facilitating an APR (Agricultural Preservation Restriction) eventually plowing the way,
raising capital through government sources and private funding, to allow the state to
purchase an APR on the property resulting in 116 acres of the farm being successfully
preserved in early 2010.
Today, the Andersons remain dairy farm owners, with the assurance that future uses of
the farm will be agricultural. As Richard Anderson notes, “We’re always going to need
food, so I think after awhile, the land’s going to be a pretty important factor.” Not only did
the Andersons score a victory, but so did the West Bridgewater landscape, potential
farmers, and all the beneficiaries of the 600,000 pounds of milk produced by the farm
annually, much of which goes to Garelick Farms.
Submitted By Hazel Bacigalupo
Excerpt from South Shore Organics newsletter.