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We have done it!

Five years ago the NACF board had two enormous and persistent challenges even after 10 years of accomplishment. We had a $400,000 mortgage obligation to discharge, and we had an obligation to our lessee farmers to stabilize (and ideally enhance) the crumbling buildings — the farmhouse and barns — that we inherited.

Now, five years later, with the wonderful support of our community, we have fully retired the debt on the land and we have completed a major renovation of the farm house. Furthermore, at our June fundraising event, we raised the “last dollar” to pay for all this.

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Over 80 supporters attending our June 16th Sunday Brunch fundraiser. We raised over $11,000 “in the room” and a further $9,000 from others unable to attend, thereby achieving our goal. The farmhouse renovation is fully paid for.

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So we now have a strong and stable basis to support our lessee farmers who themselves have made (and are making) substantial investments in the farming infrastructure: the fencing, well and irrigation piping, a large PV array, the farm store, and now a new biomass boiler plant to heat their greenhouses independent of fossil fuel.

It is with considerable pride that we can now report all this — that we represent a successful model for other communities to follow, and that NACF can now move on to focusing on farm community activities like our annual strawberry and harvest festivals, food and farm education activities, and much more.

There will still be continuing stewardship obligations and NACF will continue modest, periodic financial support of our lessee farmers in major maintenance work — the deed restriction to ensure continuing affordability necessitates that.

But NACF’s primary focus can now shift to pursuing the vision of developing and nurturing a thriving farm community, for which we welcome your ideas and involvement.

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The farmhouse exterior now completely restored with new roofing and siding. The interior is now divided into two separate dwelling units (the new side entry porch shown is to the front Unit). And we have added a separate Studio accommodation for a farm manager for a total of seven bedrooms — three more than before.

The Farm Manager Studio as it now looks 95% completed.

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What a difference! 

 

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THANK YOU to over 40 volunteers whose accumulated 3,000 hours of effort over nine months from August of last year was the backbone of the successful renovation.

THANK YOU ALL!

And of course we look forward to your continued participation!

For information or to volunteer in the future, PLEASE CONTACT Bruce Coldham at bcoldham155@comcast.net
or call 413-348-6706

Go-Fund-Me (to restore the farm house)

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You are invited to help us finish restoring this historic farmhouse!  Click here:

https://www.gofundme.com/help-restore-the-historic-farmhouse

The North Amherst Community Farm is in the process of restoring the original farmhouse that has been part of the property since the 1830’s. The history of the farm house offers an interesting view of how farming in the Pioneer Valley has changed over the past 200 years. Initially a grain and livestock farm, after the Civil War the farm shifted to raising meat and vegetables for local sales and shipping. In the 20th century ownership of the farm passed from the Ingram-Dickinson’s to the Dziekanowski’s, with the latter developing a dairy operation.

In 2005, the Dziekanowski’s sold the property to the North Amherst Community Farm, a non-profit entity formed to protect the land from development. NACF now leases the property to Simple Gifts Farm, managed by Jeremy Barker-Plotkin and David Tepfer. Simple Gifts is a leader in the local organic farming sector, growing food for the local community and maintaining the land and buildings in active farm use.

The restored farmhouse will serve as affordable, comfortable housing for farm apprentices and future farm managers for many years to come. 

Almost one-third of New England farms are managed by farmers over 65 years of age. To preserve the distinctive character of our region, strengthen local food security and continue our farming traditions, we need to cultivate the next generation of farmers! The state of Massachusetts, and the town of Amherst, have done a good job of preserving farmland, but housing costs can be another major barrier for young people seeking to get into farming. This project will help address that need.

The restoration of the NACF farmhouse is being completed with the help of Community Preservation Act funding from the Town of Amherst. A critical first step was to hire a historic buildings consultant, Gregory Farmer, to assist us in researching the previous 180 years in the life of this important farm structure.

We then developed detailed plans for the restoration and remodeling of the farmhouse. It is a major undertaking, with a total budget of around $400,000. When finished it will:

– provide a functional, affordable farmhouse able to accommodate multiple occupancy scenarios (two separate living units with a total of four bedrooms

– achieve full compliance with all building codes

– reduce future maintenance expenses to a manageable level

– restore the building to its rightful place as an attractive presence on North Pleasant Street.

For more on this story and pictures of the progress we are making, please continue to look at additional blog posts below!

 Existing community support for this project includes: 

•    The Town of Amherst

•    The Dziekanowski Family

•    Interfaith Housing Corporation of Amherst

•    Kestrel Land Trust

•    Habitat for Humanity

•    Smith Vocational High School

•    + more than 700 individual members of the local community

Through both financial gifts, in-kind donations, and volunteer labor from these groups, we are on track to complete this project by the spring of 2019.

We need to raise $10,000 to finish the job and you can help!

Keep scrolling down for pictures and progress reports! 

North Amherst Farm House being restored

The North Amherst Community Farm is committed to restoring a historical farmhouse closer to its original 1830’s look!   And you can help (see below)!

Here is what we are up to!

On August 14th a group of volunteer workers began removing the old original wood clapboards to make way for new, and far more durable, fiber-cement siding that will save the farm maintenance cost long-term. That is the start of a nine month long project that will substantially renovate the farmhouse inside and out.

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The last of the original siding— volunteers David Dunn, Rob Steinberg, Gene Palmer, and Bruce Griffin taking down the siding and guttering on the south side of the farmhouse.

We have organized and committed a dozen or more specialist sub-contractors — electricians, plumbers, painters, roofer, masons, insulators and more — to a work schedule lasting through the coming winter, and we have raised most (but not all) of the funds needed to pay for it.

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A group of community volunteers assisted Dave on the tractor to complete the back-filling and preparing for the concrete floor slab.

Most especially, we have attracted, 30 or more skilled and semi-skilled volunteer workers to come on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and some Saturdays for the past four weeks — and we have done a lot of work . Ever hopeful, we imagine that we can keep this up for the next eight months. This is really a splendid example of community participation — and it will be a lasting legacy.


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Farmer, Dave Tepfer, beginning the excavation of the foundation trenching under the rear shed. It’s tight in there with all of that temporary support structure.

Over the summer we obtained building permits and resolved permission to formally divide the farmhouse into a duplex of two independent dwelling units together with a private “studio suite” for a future, resident farm manager. We managed to secure comprehensive workers compensation insurance for our volunteer workforce.

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Two Bruces begin to seal up the eastern basement bulkhead opening using salvaged stone — actually, Bruce Griffin is the mason and Bruce Coldham is supplying the mortar and the odd piece of rock


We still need your help to complete this project!

Here is how you can help!  Either:

  1. email a pledged contribution to Bruce Coldham at bcoldham155@comcast.net
    or call Bruce at 413-348-6706 or,
  2. mail your contribution directly to  NACF at PO Box 9648, North Amherst, MA 01059,
  3. or donate online at Network for Good at 

  https://northamherstcommunityfarm.com/support-nacf/


 

Progress on historical North Amherst farm house

In mid-August we worked three days removing almost all of the original clapboard siding, and completed the  demolition of the lower level of the rear shed — ready for excavation for the new foundation.

Thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers!  

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Installing temporary supporting beams before we complete the demotion of the lower section — ready for the excavation of foundation trenches next week.

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Progress!

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The old siding is coming down!

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Watermelon break — Dave Poser and Gene Palmer after removing the siding from the wall beyond.

 


Please help us finish this project and either:

  1. email a pledged contribution to Bruce Coldham at bcoldham155@comcast.net
    or call Bruce at 413-348-6706 or,
  2. mail your contribution directly to  NACF at PO Box 9648, North Amherst, MA 01059,
  3. or donate online at Network for Good at 

  https://northamherstcommunityfarm.com/support-nacf/

Restoring our 1830’s farmhouse

Work has begun to restore the farmhouse at 1089 North Pleasant St, in North Amherst MA to something closer to its original form.  Here are a few pictures of your community farm members at work!

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David and Donnie cleared out most of the basement — including demolishing the wood root cellar structure. 

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We successfully took down the rear chimney down through the roof and we will continue the demolition down to the ground.

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We still have more to do!

Now the backstory
With the land debt retired and a long-term lease finalized, we are moving to put the farmhouse into a fully functional, durable state so that our lessee, Simple Gifts Farm, can accept full maintenance responsibility. Using the Community Preservation Act funds from the Town of Amherst, we engaged a historic buildings consultant, Gregory Farmer, to help us understand the past life of our farmhouse.

We then completed a restoration and remodeling design. It involves a great deal of work — we are estimating around $400,000 — but completing it will achieve the following:

A: providing an enduringly useful and affordable farmhouse, able to accommodate multiple occupancy scenarios into the distant future.
B: adding two bedrooms, and achieving full compliance with building codes for multi-family accommodations
C: reducing the maintenance cost to a manageable level.
D: restoring the building to being an attractive presence on North Pleasant Street.
E: improving the building to provide healthy, comfortable accommodations for its occupants.

The cost of the renovation will be shared among several partners including the Town of Amherst, Simple Gifts Farm, local volunteers and donors.  If you would like to make a donation or participate in one of our upcoming fundraisers, please contact Bruce Coldham at bcoldham155@comcast.net or call 413-348-6706.

Wild Edible Plant Walk – June 17

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Take a walk at Simple Gifts Farm in North Amherst with edible plant (and weed) expert John Root to learn about finding “wild” food in our own backyards! ‘

Free workshop and everyone is welcome (especially kids)! 

Saturday, June 17 – 10:30am – 12:00 noon

1089 North Pleasant St.

North Amherst, MA

For more on John Root, see: http://www.johnroot.net/edible_plants.html