Westport couple buys Walt's Farm

Barry Cohen and Courtney Rocha will continue to farm the landmark apple orchard

Posted 11/3/21

A local couple has purchased Walt's Farm from the Westport Land Conservation Trust, and will continue to farm the 12-acre apple orchard that has become a landmark in the north part of town.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Register to post events


If you'd like to post an event to our calendar, you can create a free account by clicking here.

Note that free accounts do not have access to our subscriber-only content.

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Westport couple buys Walt's Farm

Barry Cohen and Courtney Rocha will continue to farm the landmark apple orchard

Posted

A local couple has purchased Walt's Farm from the Westport Land Conservation Trust, and will continue to farm the 12-acre apple orchard that has become a landmark in the north part of town.

Barry Cohen and Courtney Rocha of Westport were among 30 applicants to apply to purchase the property from the trust, which partnered with the town to protect it this past April. The local landmark includes an orchard, single family house, and open farm fields in the north end of Westport. It is the second farm purchased, protected, and resold by trust this year.

Walt, the former owner, grew vegetables and fruit for decades there and the property is well-known. Cohen and Rocha plan to reinvigorate the orchard and berry plants, cultivate vegetables, and raise small livestock in the fields. They are also interested in cultivating native coastal perennial plants, which pays homage to Rocha’s experience working as a coastal engineer. They anticipate involving the community in the farm once they are established.

The couple, who both grew up in the region and currently reside in Westport, have farming experience and a track record of working toward environmental conservation. Cohen has worked as assistant farm manager at Rosasharn Farm in Rehoboth, where he managed fruit trees, grew produce, and managed livestock.

“Community has always been a huge part of my life,” he said. “I love growing things, caring for the land, and getting to know it.” 

They will begin preparing the farm for next growing season and will start work on repairing the house soon. They will move to the property with their one-year-old daughter once repairs are finished, and will keep the farm’s name. They can be reached at waltsfarmstand@gmail.com.

The process

The Town of Westport exercised its rights under the Chapter 61A Program on January 19, and chose to partner with trust to ensure the property’s protection and continued farming. The trust took on the work to purchase the property, protect it with restrictions to keep it in farming, and sell it to a buyer who will continue its agricultural use and contribute to the local agricultural economy. The town contributed funds to the conservation restriction from the Community Preservation Act Fund and the Agriculture/Open Space Trust Fund.

“This is the second time this year that (the trust) and the town have had the opportunity to protect a working landscape,” said Ross Moran, the trust's executive director. “It marks the sixth working farm (the trust) has purchased, protected, and resold. The interest we have received in these types of projects illustrates the community’s desire to preserve Westport’s agricultural heritage and connect with local food. Affordable farmland is a critical need.”

“Walt’s Farm is an important neighborhood farm," added Brian Valcourt, of the trust selectmen. "Many Westporters have fond memories of Walt and his produce. I am pleased to see (the trust) stepping up and saving this land in the north end and I am pleased to see the farming tradition continue.”

BayCoast Mortgage Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of BayCoast Bank, provided the financing to help make the sale of this protected farm a reality.

 

 

2024 by East Bay Media Group

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.