I. General Questions
What’s the difference between a community farm and a community garden?
A community garden is a site where individuals can rent small plots of land for their personal use. If you are interested in renting a community garden plot you can find more information and a sign-up form on Lexington’s website.
A community farm is a farm that serves the needs and desires of the community. The farm is open to participation and enjoyment by anyone in the community, but the bulk of the day-to-day labor, and important decisions about what to grow and when to harvest, is handled by an experienced farmer.
Community farms often have other missions besides growing food, including leading educational programs for children and adults, providing food for hunger relief, demonstrating sustainable land use, preserving historic structures and local traditions, and maintaining open space.
Who runs community farms?
In our area, most community farms are overseen by nonprofit organizations and governed by a Board of Directors who provide leadership and oversight needed to ensure that the community is served. The day-to-day farming operations are managed by a professional farm manager, and usually with a group of regular volunteers from the community.
How are community farms different from private farms?
Community farms are different from privately owned family farms in a number of ways. First, there is no debt, and the cost for use of the land–the greatest expense for many farmers in suburban communities–is minimal. Second, community farms are often run by non-profit organizations and so their business has oversight by a board of directors, who are community members. Finally, the farm’s mission is to respond to the needs of the community, not just to provide income to a particular person or family.
II. Specific Questions about the proposed Lexington Community Farm
Won’t a Lexington Community Farm require a subsidy from the Town?
We are proposing a business model in which the farm operation supports itself financially, at no cost to the Town. This model has been very successful in other communities and we have developed a plan that demonstrates how it would also be successful in Lexington. The proposed budget has been carefully evaluated by a number of experienced farmers who manage organic, economically viable farms in eastern Massachusetts. All have given it their stamp of approval.
Are there trained and capable farmers that would want to run a community farm in Lexington?
There are many trained farmers who would love to manage a community farm. Thanks in part to the ongoing success of 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, there are many more trained farmers in Massachusetts than there are farms!
How would a Lexington Community Farm be different from Wilson Farms?
Wilson Farms and the Lexington Community Farm would be complementary institutions, serving different, complementary needs – much as bookstores and libraries serve communities in different ways.
Wilson Farms is a privately owned business which involves farming in Lexington and elsewhere. Community participation in Wilson Farms is limited by the needs of that business. The goal of Lexington Community Farm would be to provide hands-on, farm-based education and make the landscape of a working farm accessible to the community.
Who would benefit from the Lexington Community Farm?
A community farm would benefit a wide swath of our community; children who would learn about nutrition and ecology; Lexington’s less privileged residents who could be offered free or discounted farm produce; students seeking community service opportunities; adults looking to share and learn hands-on from gardeners and farmers; local nature-lovers; and lovers of fresh, nutritious produce–all would benefit from a community farm. Further, with its accessible location in eastern Massachusetts, a Lexington Community Farm could benefit area farmers , providing a convenient gathering place for both new and experienced farmers to exchange knowledge and pass on their skills to future generations.
Lexington and many surrounding towns already have farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) that supply local food for those who want it. Why do we need a community farm too? Wouldn’t a community farm compete with the Lexington Farmers’ Market?
The LCF will do much more than provide produce for purchase. It will be a center for farm-based, hands-on education for people of all ages and backgrounds and it will make a working farm accessible to the community. There will be opportunities to work with the Lexington schools and health and human services departments to provide fresh food to people in need. And the growing demand for local produce is increasing. There simply are not enough farms to fill the demand for fresh, locally-grown food–through CSAs, at farmers markets, or anywhere else.
How can I support the Lexington Community Farm Coalition?
There are many ways to get involved:
Volunteer: LexFarm relies on volunteers to join in and help with the programs they are most interested in.
Donate*: LexFarm also relies on monetary donations to further our mission “dedicated to education about farms, farming and sustainable land use.”
Become a Member*: Members get a vote at our annual meeting and receive regular news and updates from LexFarm. Membership dues are $20 (individual) and $35 (family)…it’s the easiest way to support LexFarm.
The Lexington Community Farm Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization.