Sunday, September 20, 2009

farming in belmont???

farming in belmont
I was surprised to drive by this sign today. Farming in Belmont!!! Where?

Belmont is "a town of homes" - suburbia - 5 miles from downtown Boston. Not much open land, even less farm land. Our lot is 1/8 acre at most, like those around us, and unfortunately much of the soil lead contaminated, like all New England suburbs. To my knowledge, we have one last "working" farm - a 5 acre parcel called Sergi Farms, 1 mile from my house. But I don't think their crops pay the rent, which is high here. And I don't think you can call us gardeners at the community plots "farmers". Farmers make a living at farming.

So, yes, there are challenges facing farmers in Belmont (all 2 of them). Main challenge: farmland. Opportunities: I don't know.

It turns out that the presentation at the library will be a panel discussion with the Asst Commissioner of Mass Dept of Agricultural Resources, two owners of Sergi Farms, and an avid Belmont gardener who keeps bees and chickens. If I have time, I'll stop by.


Thomas said...

Maybe this is a sign that urban farming is making it's way into Massachusetts. If they can farm in Brooklyn, why not Boston or Belmont?

kathy said...

I think Belmont would like more farmers. I would. So nice to see a discussion of why we can't get more super local food.

Daphne Gould said...

The last two farms in Winchester got sold over the last couple of years. One is still a raspberry farm (pick your own, operated by volunteers, owned by the town now) and the other is getting built up. What little farm land left is going away. Lexington has two working farms that I know of. Wilson's Farm I think operates on rented town conservation land (someone correct me if I'm wrong). Busa Farms was just bought by Lexington this spring (7.85 acres). The Busas have a lease until spring of 2011. I wonder if it will stay as farm land or be switched to other types of conservation land.

kathy said...

I love to see the beautiful fields at Wilson's farm. They do a fantastic job of farming. It seems not organic, but a very productive use of land. Don't think I've seen Busa Farms.

Sergi Farm in Belmont is kind of under the radar. I didn't know it was here for 10 years of living a mile away. Its private land that is under a trust requiring it be maintained as farmland.

Anonymous said...

Don't know if this counts, but there is also that big greenhouse off School Street that sells seedlings, etc. I got a few of this year's tomato seedlings there. I forget the name of it, but I don't think it's affiliated with Sergi Farms.

Jack Wright
Belmont, Mass.
The Town of Farms?

kathy said...

Yes, that greenhouse is the last of many that used to be in Belmont. She grows nice tomatoes and other plants.

Town of Farms has a nice ring to it! But I think we need a few more.

kathy said...

The Farming in Belmont presentation was tonight. It was very nice. Glad I went.

I enjoyed the presentation by the Mass Agr Commissioner. Lots of interesting stats. Turns out the number of farms in MA is increasing in the past 8 years! Wow. But the ave acreage per farm is doing down a little.

A key feature helping farms in MA is their ability to sell directly to consumers. CSA's and Farmers Markets, which are increasing and doing well.

MA has the highest, #1!, ave cost/acre of farmland. Not a great plus for farmers. But the large and close market balances this.

The 2 brothers who own Belmont's only farm showed great photos of the farm through the seasons.

And the bee keeper had a great story about her bees, a project she started 2 years ago. She said the rain the summer has been very bad for her bees. Bees don;t fly in the rain. For many days, rather than gathering honey, they stayed in the hive and ate their stores. They didn't reproduce as well as usual so the numbers are low now. She doesn't think her hives will survive the winter, both because a minimum number are needed to keep each other warm and a minimum amount of honey is needed for them to eat all winter. Here's another way this summer's weather may affect us for the next few years. Hopefully, she will purchase more bees next year if her hives fail.

I am wondering if her efforts are why I noticed more bees both at my home garden and at the community gardens this year. She is located 0.5 mi from my house and 1.5 mi form the community gardens. She says bees will travel up to 2 miles, thought they'd prefer to work close to the hive.

I'm going to contact the bee keeper to see if she can help with setting up a honey CSA at the community gardens. This is a project I'd love to start - for the honey and the pollination.