Friday, June 21, 2013

A New Life for Historic Brook Farm

Inspired by the original Brook Farm community (1841-47) and by the natural beauty of the site, a group of local citizens is working with Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
(DCR) to launch “New Brook Farm,” a community farm growing organic vegetables and fruits on the original site in West Roxbury.   It will also offer educational programs for all ages focusing on the history of Brook Farm, food systems, urban home gardening, food preparation and preservation.  Guest blogger and member of the New Brook Farm organization, Bill Tuttle, describes the project, which includes the historic Print Shop.   

With support from HBI, New Brook Farm, Inc. is seeking designation as the historic curator of the Print Shop and surrounding landscape at the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Brook Farm Historic Site inWest Roxbury.

A National Historic Landmark, Brook Farm was the site of an influential utopian community from 1841 to 1847 with close ties to the New England Transcendentalist movement.  The site subsequently served as the Roxbury alms house, as a training camp in the Civil War, and for more than a century as a Lutheran orphanage.  The 148-acre DCR site includes fields, wooded areas, and wetlands. 

The only remaining historic building on the site, the Print Shop dates from the orphanage period.  Archaeological exploration of the site in the early 1990s revealed the location of the five houses at the Brook Farm community and other site features.
Working with HBI, New Brook Farm is proposing to stabilize the Print Shop and plan for its eventual rehabilitation.  Likely uses include a multi-purpose exhibition and meeting space, farm storage, and possible non-profit office space.

In the surrounding landscape, New Brook Farm is planning to develop a landscape interpretation of the main Brook Farm buildings near the Print shop based on archaeological evidence of their location, and to create a one-acre demonstration farm to serve as an education program focused on sustainable food systems and gardening.  All farming and landscape activities will be ensure the protection of any known or potential archaeological resources.

New Brook Farm expects to submit a formal proposal to DCR in the next month.  New Brook Farm, Inc. is a non-profit formed by a group of residents from West Roxbury, Roslindale, and the surrounding area.

For more information on the project, go to:

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