Heather Fleming and her husband, Cord Awtry, weren’t planning to move from Arlington to Boxborough seven years ago, but a country drive with their newborn turned into a life-changing experience.
“We saw this house when my daughter was less than a week old. Any excuse to get out of the house,’’ Fleming, a scientist at MIT, said with a laugh. “It was an easy drive, straight out Route 2, and we fell in love with the house and the big, beautiful yard.’’
It was a welcome lifestyle switch after living closer to Boston.
“We loved our little house in Arlington, but it had three bedrooms and a postage-stamp yard. We both grew up in more rural areas, and we knew that once we had kids, we wanted more space,’’ she said.
Now the family enjoys gardening and canning, meeting friends at Flerra Meadows, going to the library, or grabbing drinks and snacks at True West Brewery down the road in Acton or at the Boxboro Regency Hotel & Conference Center.
For work, she travels to Cambridge, grabbing the commuter rail in Littleton. Her husband works in nearby Maynard. They also have a 4-year-old son now. As their family grew, so did their town pride. This is important, Fleming said, because the community is sometimes overshadowed by Acton, Boxborough’s larger, busier neighbor. The towns share a school system.
“You have a sense of a neglected, younger sibling in Boxborough, but at the same time there’s such a pride that comes with [living here],’’ Fleming said. “At our town Memorial Day parade, a [student] read an essay about the town trying to put up a veterans memorial. She said: ‘We want to show we’re Boxborough! We’re different than Acton.’ ’’
Fleming is becoming involved in civic affairs through Boxborough Town Center, a group debating possible development plans on rural land along Burroughs and Stow roads. She recently hosted a gathering at her house on Stow Road, uniting the old guard and newer families.
“A lot of people have been living there for decades or longer. We got fresh eggs from a family who lives up the road from us, and we didn’t even know they had chickens,’’ she said. “A big reason I moved to Boxborough is to live somewhere that neighbors feel connected and able to communicate together.’’
Next up for Fleming? An outreach effort called Bettering Boxborough Together, an initiative that aims to unite residents to brainstorm about town needs and project funding.
“I think this fits in with the ongoing theme of community: asking what kind of growth we want to see in town and how we see ourselves as a nature-loving, rural community rather than wanting to expand too much and starting to resemble other surrounding towns,’’ Fleming said.
BY THE NUMBERS
The age of the town’s oldest resident, Marie Migner
The year the first Golden Fife was awarded. It’s presented in a service at the annual Fifer’s Day celebration in June to the town resident who has demonstrated long-term volunteerism.
The number of acres in Inches Wood — which was cut down for ship’s timber during the Civil War. Henry David Thoreau had called the oak forest “the handsomest thing I saw in Boxboro.’’
The number of soldiers from town who fought in the Civil War despite a population of just 403. Five died. The population is 5,000-plus residents today.
PROS & CONS
Room to roam
The Conservation Commission cares for 938 acres, the Boxborough Conservation Trust manages an additional 132 as conservation land, and the town has 342 acres of open space.
Few dining options
If you want fancy fare, you’d best head to Acton or Littleton. Save a pizza place, an ice cream shop, a restaurant at the Boxboro Regency, and Oscar’s Burritos, Boxborough doesn’t have much.
Kara Baskin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin. Subscribe to our free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at pages.email.bostonglobe.com/AddressSignUp.