A plan to preserve a historic coastal farm on Chappaquiddick was approved by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission Thursday, a major step forward toward a joint conservation purchase by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank and the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. 

Commissioners unanimously approved the preservation effort for Pimpneymouse Farm, put forth by the relatives of the late Edo Potter, a longtime conservationist and an early leader in the Island’s conservation movement.

Ms. Potter’s son Stephen Potter proposed subdividing the family’s 217-acre farm property, with the intent to put 171 acres in conservation. The family will retain 26 acres and has vowed to put covenants on the property preventing future subdivisions, preserving the farm property as it is today.

About 80 per cent of the farm property will now be preserved. — Ray Ewing

About 11 acres would be set aside for future needs of the family and about 9 acres adjacent to Cape Pogue Pond watershed will remain protected. The family was also committed to donating two parcels to an affordable housing organization.

When considering applications, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission weighs the benefits and the detriments of any project. Commissioners praised the plan, saying everything involved was a benefit.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a project that didn’t have a single detriment,” said member Joan Malkin. 

Pimpneymouse farm was started by Ms. Potter’s father Charles Welch in 1932, and she continued to manage it for 50 years after his death in 1947. The Last Farm on Chappaquiddick, Ms. Potter’s 2010 memoir, detailed the history of the gentleman’s farm where hay was raised, horses were kept and the marshland along Poucha Pond was used for duck hunting. 

The project will have to still go through the Edgartown planning board and the land court in order to finalize the subdivision, said Adam Moore, the executive director of Sheriff’s Meadow. His organization has been working to raise nearly $6 million to purchase the land from the families. He hoped to close on the property by the end of 2024, and then have it open to the public within a year of the closing date. 

Sheriff’s Meadow plans to open a new trailhead for a handful of vehicles on Dike Road, and then connect trails on the farm property to Sheriff’s Meadow’s Poucha Pond property. 

Clearing the Martha’s Vineyard Commission was one of the main hurdles before the project, Mr. Moore said. 

“That was a big step forward,” he said Friday after the vote.

For a time Thursday, commissioners did get hung up on the commission’s own policy over the nitrogen calculations, saying it didn’t quite fit plans for agricultural use. In the end, the commission voted to require any future farmers to submit plans to the commission for approval. 

After the vote, commission chair Fred Hancock thanked the Potter and Slater family for their efforts. 

“I think this is a wonderful act and, as I mentioned before, befits Edo’s legacy as one of the first commission members,” he said. “On this 50th anniversary of the commission, I think this is very appropriate and essential.”