The Needham Community Farm is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to a recent vote by the Needham School Committee.
At its last meeting, The Needham School Committee voted unanimously to move forward with an RFP process to license 1.25 acres of land to an agricultural, educational program at the Nike Site.
Superintendent of Needham Public Schools Dr. Dan Gutekanst originally proposed the idea at a June 15th School Committee meeting. After a tour of the Nike site, and a brief discussion School Committee members agreed last Tuesday that a farm-based education program would be a welcome addition to the Needham Public School curriculum.
Debbie Schmill, President of the Needham Community Farm, Inc, was present for the School Committee vote. “We are thrilled the School Committee has taken the initiative to bring hands-on environmental education to the schools. This is a fabulous opportunity for an organization like the Needham Community Farm to fulfill our mission to promote environmental awareness and stewardship through farm-based programs.”
The School Committee vote and being awarded the RFP are just two steps on the road to the farm. The land at Nike has been closed to the public for decades, but with a combination of hard work, time and some organic compost the land will be ready to plant seedlings, grow vegetables and provide a teaching ground for Needham’s K-12 children.
“We estimate it will take at least a year and a half of hard work and investment in the soil to get the land ready to grow vegetables” says Allison Cornelisse, Vice President of the Needham Community Farm, Inc.
Allison also wants to make sure that Needhamites are aware of the fact that the soil and water at the Nike site have undergone a series of thorough and extensive testing by independent organizations, and that those results have shown each time that the Nike site is a safe place to grow organic produce.
The next steps for the Farm Committee will be to raise funds through private donations and state and federal grants to create viable soil for the farm, build a fence, hire a farmer and pay for annual operating expenses. Additionally, it will need to recruit numerous volunteers from across a wide variety of disciplines to help prepare and maintain the land and the farm, handle administrative and operational issues and even offer their expertise in teaching classes.
This is an exciting opportunity for Needham to be on the cutting edge of an educational initiative that is gaining momentum and enjoying ever growing popularity across the country. With the help and support of Town officials, residents and neighbors, the Needham Community Farm will be a valuable and vital resource for the entire town for many years to come.