At a time when our hearts should be as full as our abundant fields and Learning Garden, Waltham Fields Community Farm (incorporated as Community Farms Outreach, Inc.) is instead greatly apprehensive about the future of the Waltham Field Station at 240 Beaver Street. This property, also known as the UMass Waltham Center, has been the foundation for our organization for the past 23 years. On this rich and rare urban farmland we execute our mission to promote local agriculture and food access through our farming operations and educational programs.
WFCF is tenant of the University of Massachusetts, and has existed without a long-term lease or the security that comes with it since 1995. We have dutifully renewed our agreement for land and office space with the University on a yearly basis as our requests for a long term lease were routinely denied. It is our understanding that the University may now be contemplating the closure of this site, including the buildings and farmland. Renewal of our lease, which technically expires on June 30, 2018 but has an automatic extension through December 31 (do not worry about your CSA shares or summer education programming for this season!), is currently uncertain and the University’s promise to clarify the future of our tenancy this past April has gone unfulfilled. It is our belief that the University is now considering a sale of the property to the City of Waltham. WFCF firmly believes that this farm land should not be taken for granted.
The farmland we have been stewarding for the past two decades at the UMass Waltham Field Station has a long history for good reason: the rich alluvial soils are fertile, prime, relatively rock-free, flat and abundantly yielding. The University acquired the property by way of Cornelia Warren’s will at her passing in 1922. The site was her family’s dairy, hay, and vegetable operation. Upon her death the farm was divided into several parcels by the Trustees of her Estate. Since then, the UMass Field Station has held historical significance for gardeners, farmers, breeders and all realms of horticultural research. This area of Waltham was surrounded by farmland at the time of Cornelia’s death; now, WFCF occupies the last vestige of that rich heritage, with ball fields, athletic structures, houses and other development displacing the rest of what was formerly her rich, urban agricultural land.
Waltham Fields Community Farm has stewarded this land proudly and thoughtfully for over twenty years. We have donated its bounty to people in need, and has used sustainable and organic practices at the forefront of our approach. We are doing that on soil with a foundational tilth and structure that is rare to find these days.
The tireless work of our farmers, educators, staff and community volunteers encourage healthy relationships between people, their food supply, and the land from which it grows. Annually, our farmers grow and distribute approximately twenty tons of food through our food access partners, Food for Free, Greater Boston Food Bank, Boston Area Gleaners, and Daily Table, with the majority of the produce delivered to residents and meal programs in Waltham, Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston. Our food access programs serve WFCF's Outreach Market in the City of Waltham, the Waltham Public School system, the Boys and Girls Club of Waltham, The Family School, The Jewish Food Conference, and Healthy Waltham. Our educational programming has inspired thousands of children for over fifteen years, and dozens of corporate, university and faith-based groups volunteer annually.
Waltham Fields Community Farm respectfully seeks the support of our wide and diverse community which extends deeply throughout the City of Waltham and its neighboring communities. Join us as we voice our shared concerns to protect and preserve this prolific agricultural land and its exceptional historical relevance. Please voice your concerns to Waltham’s Mayor, Jeannette McCarthy, and Waltham’s City Councilors and let them know you want the agricultural farm land at the UMass Field station to remain active and open to all!
We will keep our community updated as we learn new developments but for now please share your concerns locally. Links to emails for Waltham Mayor's Office and Waltham City Council as here:
Waltham Fields Community Farm (WFCF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization, that promotes local agriculture and food access through our farming operations and educational programs, using practices that are socially, ecologically, and economically sustainable. We encourage healthy relationships between people, their food supply, and the land from which it grows.