Town-owned land leased to successful community farm

Image courtesy of Just Roots

Town farms – or poor farms – provided a support system for society’s poor in the 1800s through the mid-1900s in New England. Often on the outskirts of town, the poor farm provided a sense of purpose for paupers who then provided labor for the farm. Just such a poor farm was owned by the Town of Greenfield from the 1850s to 1950s, at which time the Town began to rent the farmland out to farmers. In 2009, a partnership between Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, the Town of Greenfield, Just Roots, and others began the process of preserving the land under APR. In 2011, Just Roots, whose mission is to increase access to healthy, local food by connecting people, land, resources, and know-how, was given a fifteen-year lease on the 61-acre parcel, to create the Greenfield Community Farm. This farm is realizing its mission by providing community workshops, outdoor education for school children, community garden plots, and more. This story is an excellent example of how a municipality can make more land available for farming while protecting farmland on the edges of population centers.

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