The following is a letter to the editor from Sandy Martinez. Letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the views of WestfordCAT or its Board of Directors. To submit your own letter, e-mail [email protected]
At this time of year, the apple trees were always bursting with beautiful flowers announcing our New England winter was over and spring had truly arrived. Flowering orchards greeted you on Boston Road as well as acres of orchards on Main Street to Chelmsford and Chamberlain Road to Nabnassett. Apple trees sprouted on their own and grew in yards and woods. . . . but, no longer in Westford.
In early May, we used to wonder if the weather would cooperate. Would the trees be prematurely stripped of their blossoms before we could celebrate spring with our Apple Blossom Parade and Festival? Would we luck out and experience a beautiful day for the parade with trucks, floats, children’s bicycles and wagons decorated with apple blossom branches?
Now, in 2016, where are the apple trees we used to celebrate? There are only two working orchards left in our town. When my family moved to Westford in 1973, Boston Road was covered with healthy producing apple trees, as were other areas of town. People came to Westford to the orchards to purchase apples and the special Russet Apple Cider.
Our lovely orchard at the Gateway to Westford is gone. You will still see a dozen old, uncared for apple trees struggling to survive. Newcomers have never seen the beauty of an orchard of blossoming apple trees as they left route 495 to drive into the lovely historical center of Westford.
Why couldn’t we revitalize that land to make the Gateway to Westford the scenic vista that it once was, and maintain the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR)? There are many questions that need discussion since Town Meeting voted down allowing a huge restaurant to be built on that special property. Could we use Community Preservation (CPA) funds to buy the former Drew Farms? Could new orchards be planted? Could space for another Community Garden be made? What other agricultural uses could be made of that land?
Hopefully some of these questions will be discussed in public forums. Obviously Town Meeting spoke: the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) should be maintained, just as the Town of Westford has preserved hundreds of acres Conservation land.
A first step proposal: Make Apple Blossom Festival a time to plant apple tree seedlings in designated spots throughout the town and encourage plantings in our yards? Make it an Apple Blossom Festival for the future.