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Lexington picks local group to run first community farm

Posted by Brock Parker  August 9, 2013 05:45 PM

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Lexington’s first community farm will take root next spring, now that the town has selected local non-profit organization LexFarm to run the operation.

Town Manager Carl Valente said the town must now negotiate the lease with LexFarm, the Lexington Community Farm Coalition, and is hoping to finalize the agreement by late September or early October.

Valente said he and a committee set up to review proposals for a community farm on the Lowell Street property chose LexFarm over a competing proposal by Fat Moon Farm in Westford. He said LexFarm’s plans to include a strong educational component in its operation of the farm, along with their plans to use an experienced farmer to run the farm factored heavily in the decision.

LexFarm president Janet Kern said planning is already underway for the crops and educational programs that will be offered by the farm beginning next spring.

Kern said LexFarm’s selection is the culmination of years of work by activists that wanted to see the 8-acre Busa Farm used as a community farm rather than recreational fields.

Lexington purchased the land in 2009 for about $4.1 million and spent a few years debating what to do with it before selectmen voted in 2012 to use most of the land for a community farm and set aside a small piece of land for affordable housing. The town issued a request for proposals earlier this year seeking someone to run the community farm.

“We are really, really excited,” Kern said. “Now we get to move from all the dreaming to actually bringing a community farm to Lexington.”

LexFarm is teaming up with Waltham-based Community Farms Outreach to hire the farmer and Dennis Busa, who has been farming the land, has agreed to stay on as a farmer for at least a year, Kern said. LexFarm will oversee the work and will focus on the educational programs and community outreach for the farm, Kern said.

Valente said LexFarm will pay the town about $1,500 a year for use of the property and will have a 10-year lease with two options to renew for five years. He said the lease will start April 1 in time for the 2014 growing season.

--Brock.globe@gmail.com

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