Grow Food Northampton’s vision to save a tract of fertile and historic land for sustainable community farming struck a chord in the heart of Northampton. In six months and against most predictions, a groundswell of excitement, money, talent, expertise, and material poured forth from our community to bring this vision to life. As a result, on February 25, 2011, GFN was able to purchase all 121 acres of permanently protected farmland in Florence, and the Northampton Community Farm was born!
At the Groundbreaking Celebration of the Bean/Allard Preservation Project on May 22, our community marveled at what transpired in one year’s time. Who would have believed that we’d be standing there, gazing out on our farmland, admiring the rows of tender greens and tomato plants on our CSA farm, playing, laughing, and running around like we own the place!
This project could not have been possible without an enormous level of collaboration: the cooperative work of the Trust for Public Land and the City of Northampton to shepherd the entire preservation project and tap state funding sources; the team spirit of the Bean/Allard Task Force—welcoming extensive public input and arriving at a land-use plan that satisfied competing interests; the moral and technical support from non-profit organizations like Equity Trust, CISA, and the American Farmland Trust; the thousands of dollars in donated services and material from local businesses; the talent and commitment of over 100 citizen volunteers; and the financial investment of over 1000 donors.
As Grow Food Northampton moves into its exciting next phase, we are all the more convinced that collaborative relationships like these are key to improving community welfare in general, and local food security in particular. Last summer, GFN not only stewarded the Northampton Community Farm, but also initiated programs to improve broad access to local food and deliver food-and farm-based education to our community. To do this, we relied on partnerships with local businesses, municipal and non-profit groups including the Tuesday Market, the Northampton Survival Center, CISA, and the Northampton Health and School Departments. We hope you will be inspired to join our collaborative work — there is a great deal to accomplish. As last year proved, together we can achieve all that we imagine!