Land’s Sake was founded in 1980 by a small group of agrarian-minded folks who wanted to institutionalize sustainable public land stewardship and energize land-loving people to celebrate and preserve the historical agricultural heritage of the town. The group included Doug Henderson, Martha Gogel, and Brian Donahue.
Their first project was improving trail maintenance in the woods of Weston. In the spring of 1981 they began farming the land at the “Case 40 Acre Field” where our farm stand is still located. At the time, the land was owned by Harvard University as part of the Arnold Arboretum. After a few successful farming seasons, Land’s Sake became a household name in Weston and the surrounding community.
In 1985, Harvard University decided to sell the Case 40 Acre Field. Land’s Sake led the effort to save the land from development. A coalition of community groups came together and galvanized town voters to purchase the land. Land’s Sake has licensed the land from the town ever since.
In 1991, the town-funded Green Power program, first begun by Bill McElwain in 1970 off Merriam Street, was merged with Land’s Sake and our farm became the locus for the high-school-age youth farming program. Over the years, we have expanded our educational programming to serve the needs of all school-age groups as well as adults.
We work with the Weston Public Schools and other neighboring schools, including Brandeis University. Our educational work is part of a long tradition of agricultural education in Weston, going back to the Hillcrest Gardens of Marion Case, where boys learned farming and horticulture skills starting in 1909. Hillcrest was located at the current Case Estates of Arnold Arboretum in Weston.
Over the years, Land’s Sake has grown a lot of vegetables and taught a lot of young people the basics of agriculture, ecology and local history. We have also raised sheep and chickens and turkeys and worked with draft horses. In the future, we hope to continue as custodians of civic agriculture traditions and grow our educational offerings to meet the ever-growing demand for programs related to food, sustainability and ecology. More of our story of community stewardship can be found by reading Reclaiming the Commons by Brian Donahue, one of our founders.
Land’s Sake and Land Preservation in Weston
1863: The Case family comes to Weston
1864: Marian Case is born (dies 1944)
1889: Case Mansion is built
1909: Marian Case opens Hillcrest Gardens, staffed by the “Hillcrest Boys.” Closes in 1943.
1927: The Case Barn is built
1938: A hurricane destroys over 10,000 trees in Weston
1942: Case family sells 58 acres to Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum.
1955: Weston begins to form a town forest
1955: Weston Forest and Trail Association is formed
1961: Weston establishes a Conservation Commission
1971: Green Power Farm is opened on Merriam Street
1973: The Sugar Shack is built next to the Middle school
1972-74: Weston purchases 1,000 acres of conservation land
1980: Land’s Sake is founded
1985: The town purchases the 40 acre Case Field from Harvard (now Land’s Sake Farm)
1989: Conservation Commission approves 1st long-range forest management plan for the town
1990: Land’s Sake moves into the Melone House