In less than one year, Grow Food Northampton moved from a small group of concerned citizens to a vibrant, community-driven non-profit organization that now owns the largest community farm in Massachusetts located in the geographic heart of Northampton.
Our Farm currently consists of
- Crimson & Clover Farm: 215 Spring St, Florence. A CSA operation which grows fruit and vegetables sustainably for local markets
- Slow Tractor Farm, growing barley & wheat for malting grain for local breweries, and corn for local feed. STF subleases Crimson & Clover’s leased land as well as grows on GFN’s “East Field”.
- Sawmill Farm, 140 Meadow St. Growing intensively on 2.5 acres, Sawmill features medicinal and culinary herbs and greens that it provides to CSA shareholders and local restaurants and markets.
- Mockingbird Farm, rotating its livestock at the Northampton Community Farm on all fields that need “fertilizing and mowing” and that also provide nutritious pasture to Mockingbird’s cattle and pigs.
- The Grow Food Northampton Organic Community Garden, 140 Meadow St. Florence. FOG provides space, resources and support for over 250 community members to grow their own food organically.
With a mission to promote food security, Grow Food Northampton ensures that a significant portion of food produced at our Farm is subsidized for low-income households & seniors, and donated to local hunger relief agencies, and that our community garden plots are affordable to all. Partnering with The Farm Education Collaborative, we host youth educational programs including public school field trips that bring over 500 children to the farm each year. We hold community-building events on the site throughout the growing season.
Here’s a timeline of Grow Food Northampton’s history:
The listserv “Grow Food in Northampton” is created to give Northampton local food activists a means of quick, efficient communication about issues of their concern, especially farmland preservation.
Upon learning that the City of Northampton signed a purchase agreement to buy the Bean Farm in Florence, MA for the purpose of creating sports fields, “Grow Food in Northampton” listserv members form an active core that:
- Documents and publicizes the “prime” agricultural soils of the Bean Farm.
- Brings news of the Bean Farm purchase to the Northampton Agriculture Commission, engaging their advocacy to save the Farm.
- Lobbies for an open “public process” for determining the use of the Bean Farm.
- Gathers over 800 petition signatures by Northampton citizens calling for the Bean Farm to be kept primarily in agriculture.
- Documents the historic value of the Bean Farm, affecting the Historic Commission position on saving the Bean Farm.
- Researches the advantages of creating an APR “block” on both the Bean and the adjacent Allard Farms.
- Engages the Trust for Public Land (TPL) in the effort to save both the Bean & Allard Farms. Connects TPL to the City of Northampton’s Planning Office.
- Attends +/-20 city meetings related to the Bean Farm, bringing our research and advocating our perspective.
- With a successful collaboration between TPL and the City of Northampton underway to permanently preserve the 180-acre Bean and Allard Farms, 40 core listserv activists gather and vote unanimously to incorporate as a non-profit organization in order to purchase 121 of these acres and create a sustainable community farm. A Founding Board is voted into office.
- GFN’s Founding Board begins the research and work of forming a non-profit organization. A dialogue with TPL ensues about GFN’s hope to buy the Bean/Allard farmland.
- GFN incorporates as non-profit in Massachusetts.
- GFN files for 501(c)3 status and secures the fiscal sponsorship of Equity Trust.
- GFN widely circulates a Request for Proposals (RFP) to farmers interested in leasing the Bean & Allard farmland.
- GFN receives the blessing of TPL to pursue fundraising to buy Bean/Allard farmland and bring our vision of community agriculture to life.
- After receiving fundraising training, GFN begins the first phase of its fundraising campaign.
- Following a rigorous RFP review process, GFN selects Jen Smith and Nate Frigard (Crimson & Clover Farm) to be the “anchor farmers” at the future Northampton Community Farm.
- GFN signs a Purchase and Sale agreement with the Trust for Public Land to buy up to 121 acres of the Bean and Allard farmland.
- GFN launches its public fundraising campaign after raising $210,000 in 8 weeks.
- GFN reaches its first fundraising goal of $270,500 to purchase the Bean Farm.
- GFN reaches its second fundraising goal of $355,500 to purchase the South Field.
- GFN becomes an official 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization.
- After dozens of house parties, fundraising events and grant proposals, and thousands of mailings, phone calls and personal appeals, GFN reaches its $670,500 campaign goal to buy the entire 121 acres. Total number of contributors: 1400. Largest contribution ($94,000) comes from the City of Northampton as pre-payment of a 198-year lease of the South Field for community gardens.
- GFN purchases 121 acres of permanently preserved farmland from the Trust for Public Land, and the Northampton Community Farm is born.
- GFN signs a 99-year lease with Crimson & Clover, and a 198-year lease with the City of Northampton.
- GFN Board of Directors hires Lilly Lombard to serve as its first Executive Director.
- GFN offers affordable farm shares at Crimson & Clover to 24 low income households, and collaborates with CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) to provide 9 affordable shares to Northampton seniors.
- GFN partners with Tuesday Market to raise $12,000 to double the value of food stamps used at the local farmers market.
- Crimson & Clover Farm launches its first season, selling 215 shares to local community members.
- GFN plants fertile cover-crops on the Main and South Fields in order to enhance soil quality.
- GFN is awarded $104,500 from the Northampton Community Preservation Fund to develop the Florence Organic Community Garden (FOG)
- GFN receives the Community Transformation Award by Mass. Dept. of Public Health
- GFN holds its very first community harvest celebration at Crimson & Clover Farm
- Along with other local conservation organizations, GFN works to save the Community Preservation Act in Northampton’s local election
- GFN applies 36 tons of local rock dust on the future Community Garden site, an organic method of enhancing soil fertility.
- Planning and development of FOG shift into high gear as GFN prepares to make 100 garden plots available in Spring 2012.
- GFN registers “pioneer gardeners” for the 110 available garden plots at FOG.
- Slow Tractor Farm signs a 3-year lease with Grow Food Northampton and grows grain for malting beer.
- All registered FOG gardeners undergo mandatory organic gardening training.
- Tool shed, irrigation system, and driveway are installed at FOG.
- Memorial Day–Opening Day ceremony for FOG.
- Crimson & Clover serves 315 shareholders and donates thousands of pounds of food to local food pantries and soup kitchens.
- Crimson & Clover hosts GFN’s Community Farm Fest
- GFN selects Sawmill Farm Collective to launch its “Market Plot” program.
- GFN is awarded a $15,400 grant toward youth education at the farm.
- FOG doubles its size and continues its physical infrastructure build-out, adding roadways and composting outhouse. Donates 1100 pounds of food to a local soup kitchen.
- Crimson & Clover serves 330 shareholders and continues to donate thousands of pounds of food to local food pantry.
- Sawmill Farm Collective launches its farm business growing herbs, greens & cherry tomatoes on 1.5 acres.
- Mockingbird Farm becomes the fourth farm business at the Northampton Community Farm, grazing cattle on on the South and East Fields.
- Crimson & Clover, GFN, and The Farm Education Collaborative team up to bring 500 public elementary children to the Farm on field trips to harvest beets and carrots.
- GFN completes strategic planning and hires a part-time Volunteer Coordinator.
- Crimson & Clover grows to offering 370 shareholders.
- GFN hosts a fall farm tour of public officials including US Congressman Jim McGovern.