A timeline of Grow Food Northampton’s history

The Florence Organic Community Garden after its first season

Summer 2009

The listserv “Grow Food in Northampton” was created to give Northampton local food activists a means of quick, efficient communication about issues of their concern, especially farmland preservation.

Fall 2009

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 formed an active core that:

  • Documented and publicized the “prime” agricultural soils of the Bean Farm
  • Brought news of the Bean Farm purchase to the Northampton Agriculture Commission, engaging their advocacy to save the Farm
  • Lobbied for an open “public process” for determining the use of the Bean Farm
  • Gathered over 800 petition signatures by Northampton citizens calling for the Bean Farm to be kept primarily in agriculture
  • Documented the historic value of the Bean Farm, affecting the Historic Commission position on saving the Bean Farm
  • Researched the advantages of creating an APR “block” on both the Bean and the adjacent Allard Farms
  • Engaged the Trust for Public Land (TPL) in the effort to save both the Bean & Allard Farms. Connected TPL to the City of Northampton’s Planning Office
  • Attended +/-20 city meetings related to the Bean Farm, bringing our research and advocating our perspective
February 2010
  • 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 gathered and voted 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 wass voted into office
March 2010

Founding Board of Grow Food Northampton, March 2010

  • Founding Board began the research and work of forming a non-profit organization. A dialogue with TPL ensued about Grow Food Northampton’s hope to buy the Bean/Allard farmland
April 2010
  • Incorporated as a non-profit in Massachusetts
June 2010
    • Filed for 501(c)3 status and secured the fiscal sponsorship of Equity Trust
    • Widely circulated a Request for Proposals (RFP) to farmers interested in leasing the Bean & Allard farmland

Early GFN fundraising meeting

July 2010
  • Received 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, we began the first phase of our fundraising campaign
August 2010
  • Following a rigorous RFP review process, we selected Jen Smith and Nate Frigard (Crimson & Clover Farm) to be the “anchor farmers” at the future Northampton Community Farm
September 2010
    • Signed a Purchase and Sale agreement with the Trust for Public Land to buy up to 121 acres of the Bean and Allard farmland
    • Launched our public fundraising campaign after raising $210,000 in 8 weeks

Jen Smith and Nate Frigard are selected as our farmers

October 2010
  • Reached our first fundraising goal of $270,500 to purchase the Bean Farm
November 2010
  • Reached our second fundraising goal of $355,500 to purchase the South Field
  • Became an official 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization
January 2011
  • After dozens of house parties, fundraising events and grant proposals, and thousands of mailings, phone calls and personal appeals, we reached our $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.

    New Year’s Eve, 2010/11

February 2011
  • Purchased 121 acres of permanently preserved farmland from the Trust for Public Land, and the Northampton Community Farm is born
  • Signed a 99-year lease with Crimson & Clover, and a 198-year lease with the City of Northampton
  • Board of Directors hired Lilly Lombard to serve as its first Executive Director
May 2011
  • Offered affordable farm shares at Crimson & Clover to 24 low income households, and collaborated with CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) to provide 9 affordable shares to Northampton seniors
  • Partnered with Tuesday Market to raise $12,000 to double the value of food stamps used at the local farmers market
June 2011

CPA money helps to seed the community garden development

    • Crimson & Clover Farm launched its first season, selling 215 shares to local community members
    • Planted fertile cover-crops on the Main and South Fields in order to enhance soil quality
August 2011
  • We were awarded $104,500 from the Northampton Community Preservation Fund to develop the Florence Organic Community Garden (now the Grow Food Northampton Organic Community Garden)
October 2011
  • Received the Community Transformation Award by Mass. Dept. of Public Health
  • Held our very first community harvest celebration at Crimson & Clover Farm

Community Farm Fest, October 2011

November 2011
  • Along with other local conservation organizations, worked to save the Community Preservation Act in Northampton’s local election
  • Applied 36 tons of local rock dust on the future Community Garden site, an organic method of enhancing soil fertility
January 2012
  • Planning and development of the Garden shifted into high gear as we prepared to make 100 garden plots available in Spring 2012
Spring/Summer 2012

The Garden Steering Committee hard at work planning for the first season

  • Registered “pioneer gardeners” for the 110 available garden plots at the Garden
  • Slow Tractor Farm signed a 3-year lease with Grow Food Northampton and grows grain for malting beer
  • All registered gardeners underwent mandatory organic gardening training
  • Tool shed, irrigation system, and driveway installed at the Garden
  • Memorial Day–Opening Day ceremony for the Garden
  • Crimson & Clover served 315 shareholders and donated thousands of pounds of food to local food pantries and soup kitchens
Fall 2012
  • Crimson & Clover hosted our Community Farm Fest
  • Selected Sawmill Farm to launch its “Market Plot” program
  • Obtained a $15,400 grant toward youth education at the farm

Mayor Narkewicz and Councilor Schwartz compete at “Veggie Slingshot”

2013
  • The Garden doubled its size and continued its physical infrastructure build-out, adding roadways and composting outhouse
  • The Giving Garden donated 1100 pounds of food to a local soup kitchen
  • Crimson & Clover served 330 shareholders and continued to donate thousands of pounds of food to local food pantry
  • Sawmill Farm launched its farm business growing herbs, greens & cherry tomatoes on 1.5 acres
  • Mockingbird Farm became the fourth farm business at the Northampton Community Farm, grazing cattle on on the South and East Fields
  • Crimson & Clover, Grow Food Northampton, and The Farm Education Collaborative teamed up to bring 500 public elementary children to the Farm on field trips to harvest beets and carrots
2014
  • Completed strategic planning and hired a part-time Volunteer Coordinator
  • Crimson & Clover grew to offer 370 shareholders
  • Hosted a fall farm tour of public officials including US Congressman Jim McGovern

    US Congressman Jim McGovern tours our farm

2015
  • Senior FarmShare participants increased to 55
  • Received a 3-year grant from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation’s Healthy Food Fund to support food access programs
  • The Organic Community Garden added 50 new plots
  • The Giving Garden expanded from small garden plots to 1/10-acre field
  • Co-sponsored winter Seed Swap with Tuesday Market
  • Hosted FarmFest in October, welcoming hundreds to Northampton Organic Community Farm for food, drink, music, and activities
2016
  • Took over management of the Northampton Tuesday Market from founders Ben James and Oona Coy
  • Became a MassLIFT-AmeriCorps host site and brought two MassLIFT-AmeriCorps members on board for the year
  • Launched the Red Bag Program
  • The Giving Garden expanded to 1/3-acre, and grew and donated over 3.25 tons of produce to local food pantries and meal sites
  • In partnership with Rattlesnake Gutter Timberworks, offered a class on timber framing, and participants built a new storage shed for the Organic Community Garden
  • Senior FarmShare participants increased to 70
  • CT Valley Farms joined the Northampton Community Farm
  • Joe Czajkowski and Lakeside Organics began leasing the East Field
  • Purchased a cargo van and a cargo trailer modified for cold storage, enabling more efficient storage and transport of produce for food access programs
  • Rep. Peter Kocot helped obtain funding through MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to increase field trip and in-school educational offerings