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Angino Farm Operator is Selected

December 2005

The Angino Farm Commission has selected Newton Community Farm (NCF) to operate Angino Farm for a period of three years, with two option years for a total of five years. The selection was made at a meeting of the Farm Commission on Thursday, November 3, after having issued a formal Request for Interest (RFI). NCF was the only organization to respond to the Commission’s RFI.

The Farm Commission will now negotiate a contract with NCF, covering the responsibilities of the farm operator and the expectations and requirements of the city. This will include farm practices, insurance and liability, repair and maintenance of buildings and equipment, fundraising, public relations, community involvement, educational programming, traffic issues and other such matters. A contract is anticipated to be in place by mid-December.

This will enable the farm operator to move forward with plans to plant this spring (their schedule is outlined in an article that begins below).

NCF is a non-profit corporation formed this summer and awaiting its 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS. Its board and mission are listed below.

The condition of the farmhouse and barn has been much studied both during and after the decision to purchase the property. The most recent assessment was made by Newton ’s Public Buildings department and their recommendations are listed below.

Finally, an extensive fundraising program is needed to launch Angino Farm. Giving opportunities and other details are described below.

Doug Dickson

 

NCF CHOSEN TO RUN FARM

Have you driven by the corner of Winchester and Nahanton Streets lately? For the first time in years the field looks like an active farm. Green winter rye planted in late September covers the 1.1-acre field. That green field is only part of the good news!

The group of Newton citizens, who with the Conservators a year ago encouraged the city to buy the Angino farm using Community Preservation funds, was recently selected to operate the farm on behalf of the city. Incorporated as Newton Community Farm (NCF), this non-profit organization was established to:

  • Preserve the cultural and historic landscape of Angino Farm,
  • Grow organic produce for the benefit of Newton residents,
  • Provide the Newton community a model and educational centre for sustainable land use and energy practices, and
  • Use green or sustainable methods for renovation and operation of the farmhouse, the barn, and the fields.

The Angino Farm Commission, created by city ordinance to oversee the operation of the farm, requested proposals from non-profit organizations to operate the farm. On November 3 rd, the Commission selected NCF to begin farming this spring. The city, after purchasing the farm and committing the funds to get the house on site habitable by a farmer, will turn over to NCF the financial responsibility of operating the farm and work with NCF to upgrade the house and barn to support educational and environmental activities.

The next step in the process will be the negotiation of a contract between the city Farm Commission and NCF, the operator. The goal is to complete this process by mid-December. Farm Commission Chair Peter Lewenberg describes the relationship between the Commission and NCF as a partnership that will accommodate the evolving program on site. The NCF will prepare a Landscape Master Plan for the site with the help of the many stakeholders with an interest in the success of the Newton Community Angino Farm.

NCF will depend on Newton citizens to make the vision of an organic farm and environmental center in Newton a reality. The farm is small, with only about 1.5 acres of the site open to growing crops. NCF plans to sell produce on site, at the Newton Farmers’ Markets and through pre-paid shares. The income from produce grown on site will not pay all of NCF’s bills, especially the start-up costs of $50,000 to purchase the equipment needed to farm the site and the $200,000-300,000 to complete renovation of the buildings. In addition to the farm operation, NCF hopes that the site will become a center for environmental education and advocacy in Newton . We would like to invite the Newton Conservators and Green Decade Coalition to use the house for office space and to help plan environmental programs for the operation.

Many Newton citizens and members of the Conservators have expressed interest in supporting the farm. NCF will need significant financial support now to become operational by spring. A list of the items needed and their associated costs is included on the next page.

Assuming the contract with the city is in place by December as planned, the following schedule will commence early in 2006, leading to planting in the spring and operation of the farm this summer:

  • In January, NCF will clean and paint the inside of the house, interview potential farmers and offer pre-sale of produce shares (more about that to come).
  • In February, we will hire a farmer, order seeds, buy equipment, plant early crops in a portable greenhouse and set up a schedule for volunteer activities on the farm.
  • In March, we’ll plow under the cover crop we just planted (drive by and see the beautiful green field) and start more seedlings.
  • In April, we will start garden bed preparation and begin putting plants and seeds in the ground.
  • By late May, we will begin sharing the bounty and school children, volunteers and other Newton citizens will begin learning about farming, home gardening and sound environmental stewardship.

Ted Chapman

 

What and Who is NCF?

The Newton Community Farm organization grew out of the group that organized itself to plan and advocate for the acquisition of Angino Farm. The group has grown over the past several months and has worked steadily behind the scenes to help shape the process that has brought the farm to this stage of reality.

It has also engaged in fundraising activities, garnering $37,000 in initial donations and pledges for $65,000 more over five years. It has also identified more that 80 families and individuals who are interested in purchasing shares of produce grown by the farm. The group has incorporated and applied to the IRS for tax-exempt status.

NCF has developed initial planting plans and will continue to work on a landscape master plan that lays out the location of various garden elements, accounting for crop rotation, foot traffic and optimal use of the relatively small space. It has also collected a cultural history and worked to assess community interest and potential partners in its programming initiatives.

The NCF mission is to preserve the last operating farm in Newton as an historic and culturally valuable landscape. It plans to do this by pursuing the following goals: preserving the cultural and historic landscape of Angino Farm, growing organic produce for the benefit of Newton residents, providing a demonstration and educational model for sustainable land use and energy practices, and using green or sustainable methods for renovation and operation of the farmhouse, barn and fields.

Leading the charge during this formative period are the following members of the NCF board of directors:

John Regosin , president—a conservation biologist with the Endangered Species Program of the MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and a member of the Newton Conservators board.

Rebekah Smillie , clerk—a community activist, board member of City Sprouts, a Cambridge schools organic gardening program, and former educational researcher.

Larry Burdick , treasurer—former financial services executive and active on boards of the Trustees of Reservations, NE Wildflower Society and the Newton Conservators, among others.

Jenny Outman —counsel to the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture of the state legislature, who has assisted the Conservators and other land trusts with land conveyances and CRs.

Ted Chapman , chair of farming committee—longtime organic farmer, practitioner of homeopathic medicine and candidate for landscape design certificate from the Arnold Arboretum Landscape Institute.

Ross London , chair of fundraising committee—degrees in engineering and business administration and a long record of activism in neighborhood and school issues; longtime community gardener at Nahanton Park .

Peter Barrer , chair of building committee—professional engineer and founder of leading firm in energy efficiency consulting field.

Elyse Rosenblum —attorney who consults to foundations, corporations and non-profit organizations on educational programs and issues.

Taken from NCF’s Application to Operate Angino Farm

 

Giving Opportunities for NCF and Angino Farm

A significant amount of money has been raised over the past several months but much more is needed to make Angino Farm a reality. We urge Newton Conservators members to become a part of this exciting community project. Listed below are specific giving opportunities, as well as other categories where help is needed. To learn more about how you can participate, contact Ross London, chair of the NCF fundraising committee at 617-332-2417. Tax-deductible donations in any amount are welcome.

Donate items on our start-up equipment wish list:

  • First year compost, 1700 cu/yds, $6,000
  • Greenhouse, with heater and fans, $4,595
  • Tractor, compact utility type, 35 HP, $15-25,000
  • Imants spader, model 32SH-L (47”), $6,630
  • Wide sweep cultivators (2), $1,000 each
  • Compost spreader, $6,475
  • Bush Hog, $3,000
  • Tractor, cultivating type, $3,000
  • Basket cultivator, $2,000
  • Rototiller – 20”, $2,800
  • Earthway row seeder, $278
  • Flame weeder, $158
  • Garden cart (2), $109 each
  • Wheel hoe, with accessories, $2,500
  • Irrigation well, $5,000
  • Irrigation equipment, $2,000
  • Electric deer fence (solar powered), $420

Donate services or financial backing for:

  • Website development
  • Bookkeeping
  • Public relations
  • Event coordination
  • On-site programs

List provided by Ted Chapman

 

Rehab of the Angino Farmhouse

At its November meeting, the Farm Commission heard a report by Nick Parnell, Commissioner of Public Buildings for the city, outlining the priorities he saw in bringing the house up to code so that it can be used as a residence for the farmer as well as for programs. About $40,000 in CPA funds has been set aside to cover initial rehabilitation costs as part of the acquisition process. This amount was based on an initial assessment of what actions were needed and the discussion at November’s meeting was intended to hear an updated version of priorities and their associated costs.

Based on that discussion, the Commission decided to fund the following list of construction projects, due to be completed by the end of the year:

  • New roof, $22,750
  • Repointing and repair of masonry, $7,920
  • Upgrade of electrical service, $7,500
  • Structural evaluation of house and barn, $5,000
  • Asbestos abatement, $3,750
  • Boiler (heating) repair, $450

In addition to these activities, the Department of Public Works will connect the house to the city sanitary sewer system and appropriate security and fire alarms will be installed in the house and barn.

Longer term needs in the house include some structural work under a portion of the building to replace wood sills weakened by powder post beetles and cosmetic work, including painting, floor refinishing, upgraded kitchen and bathroom fixtures. The barn will also require work and that will follow after a structural evaluation. It is not yet clear what is needed to make the barn safe for its intended uses.

Doug Dickson

 

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