Local non-profit LexFarm signed a lease with the town Monday night for a piece of land on Lowell Street that will become the town’s first community farm.
The town purchased the eight-acre piece of land, currently Busa Farm , in 2009 for about $4.1 million The town spent several years debating whether to turn the land into recreational fields, while LexFarm and other activists advocated for preserving the property as a farm. The selectmen voted in 2012 to use most of the land for a community farm, with a small portion set aside for affordable housing.
“It has been a long haul,” said LexFarm president Janet Kern. “It’s been a lot of work for a lot of people. But it’s a testament to how a community can come together if they all care about something.”
LexFarm’s proposal for the property was selected in summer 2013, over a competing proposal from Fat Moon Farm of Westford . LexFarm will pay the town about $2,000 for the first year with a 2.5 percent increase each year for the property. The lease is for 10 years with the option to renew for five years twice.
Kern said the farm will sell produce through a farmstand and through a Community Supported Agriculture share program. She also said the farm will heavily emphasize educational programs and community outreach.
“Lexington is known for its wonderful school system, but I think there’s an education people are looking for that involves hands-on understanding of what our food system is all about, what our environment is all about, how everything is connected,” Kern said.
Kern said CSA shares will go on sale after the new year. In the lead-up to the 2014 growing season, LexFarm will solicit donations so it can fix up the roof and farmstand and buy tractors and farm equipment for organic farming.
Kern said LexFarm will oversee business operations and fundraising for the farm. Community Farms Outreach , a non-profit that runs Waltham Fields Community Farm , will handle the farming side of operations.
Claire Kozower , executive director of Community Farms Outreach, said her organization helped LexFarm with research while it was advocating to preserve Busa Farm as a community farm. When the town issued a Request for Proposal for the property, LexFarm asked Community Farms Outreach if it would team up with them and help them farm the property.
“We thought about it, and for us it represents a great opportunity to fulfill the farmer training goals we have for our organization,” said Kozower, who said her organization will send two farmers to oversee the Lexington farm.