Mayor Walsh and Historic Boston celebrate the redevelopment of the historic Fowler Clark Epstein Farm in Mattapan
June 26, 2018
Mayor Martin J. Walsh yesterday joined partners Historic Boston Inc., The Trust for Public Land, the Urban Farming Institute of Boston, North Bennet Street School, and the Mattapan community to celebrate the more than $3.7 million historic renovation of the 18th century Fowler Clark Epstein Farm. The redevelopment includes transforming the space into a working urban farm, including a new state-of-the-art farmer training center.
"It's exciting to celebrate the revitalization of this historic farm in Mattapan, which represents our past, present and future" said Mayor Walsh. "I am proud that together with many community partners, we have stepped up to make the investments needed to bring this farm back to life, ensuring that a new generation will grow up with access to this space and all the opportunities it offers."
Originally built in 1786, the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm is Mattapan's oldest building. The original farmhouse was once part of a Dorchester farm encompassing more than 330 acres dating back to the 17th century. Although five families have passed through the house across its 200-year history, it has primarily been owned by three families, beginning with Samuel Fowler, a Dorchester yeoman in the late 18th century. More than half an acre of land was preserved within a densely developed residential neighborhood, and the original house and barn were sold to Jorge Epstein in 1941, remaining in the family's possession until falling vacant in 2013.
The developer for the historic renovation of the 1786 Fowler Clark Epstein Farm is Historic Boston Inc. (HBI), a nonprofit organization that preserves and redevelops endangered historic buildings in Boston for new uses. HBI partnered with three other nonprofit organizations -- The Trust for Public Land, the Urban Farming Institute, and North Bennet Street School -- on this $3.7 million project to turn one of Boston's oldest farm properties into a modern farm and urban agriculture training and education center.
"Rehabilitation of the Fowler Clark underscores the power of historic preservation to inspire communities and renew places that make Boston's neighborhoods special," said Kathy Kottaridis, Executive Director of HBI. "Our city's historic places like this historic farm can serve the contemporary needs of Bostonians."
Historic Boston Inc. as owner and developer of the property assembled and structured all of the financing sources for the renovation of the historic buildings. The Trust for Public Land built the farm's planting beds and prepared the soil for farming. The Urban Farming Institute, a non-profit organization devoted to advancing commercial urban farming in Boston through land development, technical training and education of urban farming professionals is the primary tenant and operator of the urban farming center. Students and instructors from North Bennet Street School's Preservation Carpentry program stabilized the historic barn and restored some of the historic elements in both the barn and the house.
As the new headquarters and a demonstration farming center for the Urban Farming Institute, the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm will host formal training for farmers, public programs and workshops for the public. Produce generated from the site will be sold to area restaurants and to the public through an on-site farmstand. The site will host numerous programs for the public. The farm is located adjacent to the Fairmount MBTA Commuter Rail Line at Morton Street.
Rehabilitation included construction of new planting beds for food production, a processing space for washing and preparing produce for market, classrooms and a demonstration kitchen for educational programs, and a residence for an on-site farm manager in the historic house. In the future, a greenhouse will be built to extend the growing season.