Massachusetts has a growing number of community farms. Each community farm has a unique story about engaging the community, saving the farmland, and growing food, but they share common missions of environmental, economic, and social responsibility.
Brookfield Farm, Amherst
Production120-acre mixed farm (vegetables and livestock)
Vegetables: 10 acres owned, 20 acres rented, about 250,000 lbs of vegetables, fruits, flowers, and herbs annually
A non-profit 501(c)3 called Biodynamic Farmland Conservation Trust, Inc. owns the farm and the Town of Amherst bought the development rights so the land can only be used for agriculture in the future. Dan Kaplan has managed Brookfield Farm since 1999.
Self-sufficient with CSAs
“For us, community supported agriculture provides the best chance to practice sustainable agriculture, which we like to think of as having a triple bottom line: ecological, economic, and social. We don’t use any synthetic pesticides or petroleum based fertilizers. Instead, we use compost and mechanical weed control (humans and tractors). We build soil health year after year by keeping a herd of beef cows on the farm and making their manure into biodynamic compost. We are economically self-sustaining, not depending on grants or donations to make ends meet. We are not supported by a college or a wealthy benefactor. Our land, buildings, and equipment are owned by a non-profit created solely to ensure this one farm’s existence into the future. We want our farm to stand as a possibility for other farms to develop along similar lines. Our work over many decades has earned us a reputation in the field of farm business management; long-term planning, budget creation, crop planning and capital development are topics that we frequently present at conferences or are asked to consult about with other farmers. We also cultivate the connection with our community of shareholders to build resilience through mutual dependence. Shared risk and shared reward are our buzzwords and we take them seriously.” SOURCE: www.brookfieldfarm.org, 3/2020
Brookwood Community Farm, Canton
Vegetables, Fruits, Eggs, Herbs, Flowers
The farm is on two sites: the Blue Hills Reservation maintained by Mass DCR and the Bradley Estate owned by TTOR.
Farmstand, CSAs, Farmers Markets
“Brookwood Community Farm strives to restore underutilized farmland for agricultural purposes, while maintaining and cultivating the ecological richness and diversity of the land. The farm is committed to involving local communities through a community supported agriculture program, educational, volunteer and employment opportunities. The farm is helping ensure that all individuals have access to healthy, fresh and affordable foods through the development of new markets in under-served communities and through relationships with local hunger relief organizations.” SOURCE: https://brookwoodcommunityfarm.org/about/ 3/2020
Gaining Ground, Concord
Manages 20 acres, 3 acres in production
Gaining Ground is a non-profit organization. Doug Wolcik is the farm manager. The farmland is on town and Massport property.
1990s, moved and expanded in 1999 and 2009 to current location
“Gaining Ground grows organic produce for hunger relief with help from volunteers of all ages and abilities, who work and learn in our fields. In short, we grow food and we give it away to people who need it. For free. This refreshingly simple approach lets us focus on meeting the needs of our volunteers and the people we help feed. These two aspects of our work are closely intertwined—one wouldn’t work without the other.”
“Volunteers of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds perform almost 70% of the work in our gardens. We attract more than 2,500 volunteers every growing season—from 3rd graders to people in their 80s, from Scouts to corporate groups, from prep school athletes to people with disabilities. We believe that everyone has something to contribute, from planting beans in the ground, to tying flowers and herbs into bouquets for drying, to chopping wood for sugaring and harvesting cherry tomatoes.” SOURCE: www.gainingground.org/our-story/