Kofi Ingersoll with visitors at Bay End Farm.

Credit: Bob Seay/WGBH News

How Grazing Fields Farm Changed How We Build Highways

October 2, 2017

There’s a big bend in the road as you travel to and from Cape Cod along Route 25 near the Bourne Bridge, and it’s a curve that marks a historic turning point in how we think about building highways.

In the late 1950s, highway engineers were planning an extension of the interstate highway system that would connect I-195 to the Bourne Bridge, relieving the Cape-bound traffic that was congesting the main streets of Wareham and Buzzards Bay. They were planning to build what became known as Route 25 right through the middle of Hope Ingersoll's 900-acre Grazing Fields Farm.

Ingersoll tried to convince highway officials to build along the northern border of her farm and preserve the middle, but they ignored her plans, which she had drawn up by a highway engineer and paid for herself. She maintained that her plan would be better for the environment, preventing harmful runoff from polluting nearby cranberry bogs and the town of Bourne's water supply.

Finally, she was vindicated in 1982 when the courts ruled in her favor. A judge found that highway officials were violating newly adopted laws to protect the environment by not even considering Hope's pan. It was the first case where a private citizen, acting alone, stopped a major state and federal highway project in New England. It also put bureaucrats on notice that public opinion could have such a powerful impact on government planning, especially when it came to the environment.  

The realignment of Route 25 also protects what was an arts colony started 100 years ago by Hope's mother — Mary Tudor Garland. One of the frequent visitors was Kahlil Gibran, who wrote portions of his famous book "The Prophet" in a prefab cottage there. These days, Hope Ingersoll's grandson Kofi Ingersoll (pictured above with his father Gerry) runs a large organic farm which he named Bay End Farm after the original farm his great-grandmother began in 1906. It was his grandmother Hope who renamed the farm Grazing Fields. 

To listen to Bob Seay's story about Grazing Fields Farm, click on the audio player above.


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