In 2005, when Louise Hardy considered the future of the 100-acre farm on which she had lived for more than 45 years, she learned that she could realize the most money by selling eight subdivided house lots. Having spent much of her life in Alford hiking, skiing, and riding her horses across the land, this was not what she envisioned for the countryside she loved. Fortunately she and her brother found a conservation-minded buyer, and before selling, they placed a conservation restriction on 63 acres of the land to protect it from being developed. In exchange for donating their development rights to Alford Land Trust and Berkshire Natural Resources Council, they received a significant tax deduction.
The conserved Hardy land sits at the base of Tom Ball Mountain, stretching from East Road to the Alford Brook. The property includes hay fields, open meadows, abandoned pastures, white pine forest, hardwood forest, and lowland wetlands. Long scenic vistas to the west from East Road are preserved. The fine meadows, forests, and wetlands include areas identified by the state as priority habitat for several state-listed species of interest.
Today the conserved land is home to Helia Native Nurseries. Directed by Bridghe McCracken, Helia provides native species landscaping and plantings. Every year Helia harvests and propagates seeds from native perennial plants, trees, and shrubs while preserving native genotypes through seed banking.