What is a community farm?
A community farm is an agricultural operation that serves the needs and desires of the community. (It’s different from a community garden, where individuals can rent small plots of land for their personal use.) Besides growing food, a community farm has other missions such as educational programs, providing food for hunger relief, demonstrating sustainable land use, preserving historic structures and local traditions, and maintaining open space. A community farm is typically run by non-profit organization, so the business has oversight by a board of directors who are community members.
Why more small farms?
Adding to the number of small farms will help our region meet pressing changes in climate, population, and food needs. Small farms build popular enthusiasm for fresh and locally grown food, increasing demand and market share for all local farms. They pioneer sustainable farming methods, and are accountable to the communities they serve. Importantly, small farms help create thriving communities of people connected to the place they live.
Who will run the farm?
The non-profit organization, Littleton Community Farm, and its board of directors will provide oversight and leadership to ensure that the community is served. But an experienced, professional farm manager will handle the bulk of the day-to-day labor, supervise regular community volunteers and make important decisions about what to grow and when to harvest. Because the land is owned by the governing non-profit organization, the cost for use of the land–the greatest expense for many farmers in suburban communities–is minimal.
Farmers need farmland. There are many more trained farmers in Massachusetts than there are farms! Farmers are trained by institutions such as the eastern Massachusetts CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training), the Athol Farm School, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, and the University of Massachusetts’ Sustainable Agriculture Program. Other farmers come out of strong apprentice programs from for-profit and non-profit farms around the country.
Why does Littleton need a community farm?
By connecting as many people as possible to the land, community farms create a unique nexus for education, a seedbed of inspiration for land stewardship ideas, and a place for volunteers to involve themselves in the beautiful work of agriculture. Littleton Community Farm gives people an opportunity to care directly for the place they live and the food they eat. It helps residents value Littleton, her history, and potential.
Who benefits from a community farm?
- Children learn about nutrition, ecology, and farming;
- Students carry out community service projects;
- Adults benefit from programs and workshops of all kinds;
- Youth and adults have access to meaningful work and volunteer opportunities;
- Gardeners, beekeepers, and the like have opportunities to meet and network;
- Food-insecure residents receive fresh local produce provided free or at discount;
- Residents benefit from the positive attention from other communities.
- Future generations see our agricultural heritage and open space preserved.