Sunday, January 10, 2010

Will Lexington have a community farm?

Last month, the Town of Lexington became the owner of the 8-acre Busa Farm property in Lexington, MA. But what will become of it? Because the farmland was purchased using Community Preservation Act funds, the land must either be used for recreation, open space, historic preservation, or affordable housing (1).

Members of the Lexington Community Farm Coalition (LCFC) would like to see the land used for a community farm.

What is a community farm?

The LCFC hosted a discussion panel “A Year in the Life of a Community Farm” in December to address this very question.

Community farms
are run for and by the community. Around Massachusetts, such farms are frequently run by nonprofit organizations. What will happen to Busa Farm is particularly important, because it is one of the last, few working farms left in Lexington.

Panelists included representatives from community farms in neighboring towns (from left to right): Matt Celona and Christy Foote-Smith of Drumlin Farms (Lincoln, MA), Michael Iceland from The Food Project (Dorchester, Lynn, and Lincoln, MA), Jen James from Codman Community Farms (Lincoln, MA), Verena Wieloch from Gaining Ground in Concord, and Greg Maslowe of Newton Community Farms.

There are many benefits of a community farm, including:
  • Educating people of all ages about farming and where their food comes from, such as through farming apprenticeships
  • Local and fresh food for the community and to be donated to local food pantries
  • Increasing individuals' physical activity
  • Bringing together the community
For a recap of the panel, read Leah Bloom's excellent article "Residents study community farm options" in the Lexington Minuteman. In addition, read about the LCFC in the Boston Globe, and what the Boston Localvores said on this issue.

Lexington is my hometown, and I am currently studying nutrition at BU. But I never really thought about where my food came from and how it was grown until I was introduced to the group Slow Food BU my freshman year. Ever since then, farming and local and sustainable food have become very important in my life. I WWOOFed in Canada two summers ago, have been secretary of Slow Food BU since last year, enjoyed my first CSA share from Stillman's and interned at CitySprouts this past growing season, and will be taking the Master Urban Gardener Program with the Boston Natural Areas Network this winter.

I wish I had known about and taken advantage of community farms such as Drumlin Farms and The Food Project when I was younger, but it is never too late to learn about and become active in these issues. Sustainable and local food is not only important for the environment, but is more nutritious, and tastes better. Above all, it is extremely important to educate youth about how food grows and where it comes from, which is what a community farm can help to do. Luckily, there have already been some developments in Lexington over the past few years to help increase awareness about where our food comes from:
What can you do?
  • You can help support the LCFC's effort to use the Busa land as a community farm by simply signing this petition.
  • The LCFC is helping to sponsor a screening of The First Millimeter: Healing the Earth, followed by a discussion with Jim Laurie at the Cary Public Library on Tuesday, January 12 at 7 pm. More info about the screening here.
  • On Sunday, January 24th, the Lexington Selectmen will be deciding what to do with the Busa land. Come to ask the selectmen your questions and find out what they have to say about farming and what the land should be used for! Time: 7:30-9 pm. Location, TBD.
Keep updated on the Lexington Community Farm Coalition by visiting their site, joining their Google Group, following them on Facebook, or following them on Twitter @lexfarm. Or better yet, get involved!