29 Sep Mayor Walsh Kicks Off Urban Farming Education Training Center At Historic Fowler Clark Epstein Farm In Mattapan
City Contributes $150,000, New Director of Office of Food Initiatives Is Announced
BOSTON, MA, September 29, 2015 – Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh yesterday joined a team including Historic Boston Inc., The Trust for Public Land, and the Urban Farming Institute of Boston, North Bennet Street School, along with the Mattapan community, to celebrate the start of the transformation of the historic, 18th-century Fowler Clark Epstein Farm house, barn, and land into an urban farm and education/training center.
Mayor Walsh announced that the City of Boston would contribute $150,000 to the project from the Department of Neighborhood Development. Historic Boston Inc. plans to raise $1.5 million to reach the $3 million overall cost. “We’re going to deliver something great to you, but we will need your support,” Walsh told about 250 people who attended the event yesterday at the farm site, 487 Norfolk St., in Mattapan.
Walsh also announced the appointment of Tosha Baker of Dorchester as Boston’s new Director of the Office of Food Initiatives.
“Tosha brings incredible purpose to this position and is devoted to ensuring that Boston is food secure,” Walsh said in a statement also issued yesterday. “Her years of experience working to improve the health of our City with proper nutrition, increasing food access, and reducing hunger make her an invaluable leader.”
Baker spent eight years working for Women, Infant and Children as a nutritionist and lactation consultant. She has also worked as a chef and nutritionist at the Food Project and served in the FANtastic Kids program of Boston Medical Center, a 12-week after-school fitness and nutrition program.
Walsh made the Baker announcement at the event because the farm will become headquarters, training hub, and demonstration farming center for the Urban Farming Institute, an organization devoted to advancing commercial urban farming in Boston through land development, technical training and education of urban farming professionals. The site will also host numerous programs for the public.
“It’s exciting when you think about a farm in the City of Boston,” said Walsh, who recalled visiting Ireland as a boy, digging potatoes and pulling carrots on a farm. “This is another big benchmark in urban farming…. This is about giving this neighborhood in Boston a brighter future.”
Those present at the 5 p.m. event included Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director of Historic Boston Inc.; Patricia Spence, Executive Director of the Urban Farming Institute of Boston; Kevin Essington, Massachusetts State Director of The Trust for Public Land; Glynn Lloyd, Urban Farming Institute Board Member, Founder of City Growers, and Managing Director at the Boston Impact Initiative; Kathy MacNeil, President of Historic Boston Inc.; Claire Fruitman, Provost of North Bennet Street School; elected representatives and public officials, and Mattapan Neighborhood Organization representatives.
Historic Boston Inc., a 55-year-old nonprofit organization that preserves and redevelops historic buildings in Boston for new uses, is the owner and developer of the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, founded in 1786.
The existing farmhouse on the 30,000-square-foot site is 2,900 square feet, a barn and stable 3,000 square feet. The farm is located adjacent to the Fairmount MBTA Commuter Rail Line at Morton Street.
Rehabilitation plans include land and open areas cultivated for local food; classrooms for educational programs and a residence for an on-site farm manager in the historic house; an education/training center that will promote urban farming knowledge with classrooms, a demonstration kitchen and offices in the 1860s carriage barn for both farmers in training and public programs about farming and food production; a greenhouse to extend the New England growing season; and a farm stand with fresh produce available to neighbors and the public.
The project will be funded partially through state historic tax credit and federal historic tax credit proceeds. More than $450,000 has been raised to date, including the City’s contribution. Designation and naming rights are available.
Several area foundations and public agencies have committed $260,000 to the project to date. The 1772 Foundation, based in Newport, R.I., has awarded a $50,000 grant to Historic Boston Inc. for capital development costs of the project. The 1772 Foundation is a long-time, nationally recognized proponent of historic properties redevelopment programs, sometimes called revolving funds HBI acquired the Fowler-Clark-Epstein Farm in June with the goal of preserving the 1786 house for reuse.
Historic Boston Inc. will be developer of the property, assembling and structuring all financing sources and managing the rehabilitation of the buildings.
The Trust for Public Land will build the farm’s planting beds and prepare the site for farming.
The Urban Farming Institute will be the primary tenant and operator of the property and urban farming center after rehabilitation.
Students and instructors from North Bennet Street School’s Preservation Carpentry program will stabilize the historic barn and restore historic elements on both the barn and the house.
The farm site is recognized as a City of Boston Landmark and is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It will not only promote urban agriculture, reinvigorate and underused historic real estate asset and provide healthy food for the local community but will also provide jobs and training for local residents.
Built sometime between 1786 and 1806, the original farmhouse was once part of a large Dorchester farm encompassing more than 330 acres dating back into the 17th century. It is Mattapan’s oldest structure. Although five families have passed through the house across its 200-year history, it has primarily been owned by three families, beginning with Samuel Fowler, a Dorchester yeoman in the late 18th century.
In the 1820s, the land was sold to the Clark family. It was subdivided into parcels, as advancements in transportation hastened the development of Mattapan as a “street-car suburb” of Boston. However, more than half an acre of land was preserved within the densely developed residential neighborhood, and the original house and barn were sold to Jorge Epstein in 1941, remaining in the family’s possession until falling vacant in 2013.
ABOUT THE TRUST FOR PUBLIC LAND
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, please go to www.tpl.org .
ABOUT THE URBAN FARMING INSTITUTE OF BOSTON
The Urban Farming Institute of Boston is a social innovation organization founded in 2012 to support the development of urban farming (the growing of agricultural products for income) in Boston and in other urban areas of Massachusetts. Building a healthier, more locally based food system is at the heart of UFI’s mission. As the momentum around greening cities, increasing health outcomes, and developing more sustainable solutions for urban economic development, urban farming is quickly emerging into a viable industry solution. This emerging industry can help to promote and support innovative approaches that address economic disparity, particularly in lower income neighborhoods. For more information, please go to www.urbanfarminginstitute.wordpress.com .
ABOUT THE NORTH BENNET STREET SCHOOL
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, North Bennet Street School offers intensive, hands-on training in traditional trades and fine craftsmanship, helping students to achieve meaningful lives and livelihoods. For more than a century, the exceptional programs, master faculty and inspiring community have encouraged individual growth, curiosity, technical mastery and commitment to excellence. The school’s reputation for excellence and value attracts students from around the world. For more information, please go to www.nbss.edu .
ABOUT HISTORIC BOSTON INC.
Historic Boston Incorporated is a nonprofit preservation and real estate organization that rehabilitates historic and culturally significant properties in Boston’s neighborhoods so they can become useable parts of the city’s present and future. HBI works with local partners to identify and invest in historic buildings and cultural resources whose re-use will be catalysts for neighborhood renewal. HBI acquires and redevelops historic structures and provides technical expertise, planning services and financing for rehabilitation projects. HBI projects demonstrate that preserving historic properties is economically viable and that they can be functioning assets in a community. For more information, please go to www.historicboston.org .
For more information, please contact:
Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director of Historic Boston, Inc.
Tom Palmer Communication