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Mayor Walsh, Historic Boston Announce Renovation of the Historic Fowler Clark Farm in Mattapan

September 28, 2015

Mayor's Office

Published by:

Mayor's Office

Revitalization takes off with $150,000 grant from City of Boston

Boston - Monday, September 28, 2015 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh 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 start of the more than a $3 million historic renovation of the 18th century Fowler Clark Epstein Farm into a working urban farm, housing for farmers, and educational training center, under the auspices of the Urban Farming Institute. At the celebration Mayor Walsh announced that the City of Boston will also be giving Historic Boston a $150,000 grant to help jump-start this important historic preservation project in Boston.

"I am excited to celebrate another step in the revitalization of this once blighted historic farm in Mattapan," said Mayor Martin Walsh. "I am proud that my administration has made an investment in the past - and the future - of the Mattapan community with the rehabilitation of this land. I want to thank Historic Boston for their creative vision and commitment to creating a working farm, a training center and housing for farmers on this formerly vacant site." 

Built sometime between 1786 and 1806, the original farmhouse was once part of a large Dorchester farm encompassing more than 330 acres dating back into the 17th century. It is Mattapan's oldest structure. 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. "

Urban agriculture and farms are a few of the many approaches to increasing access to healthy, nutritious foods for people in our City," said Tosha Baker, Mayor Walsh's newly appointed Director of Food Initiatives. "I would like to thank Mayor Walsh and all of the City's partners who were involved in bringing the launch of this project to fruition. I look forward to seeing the end results." The developer for the historic renovation of the 1786 Fowler Clark Epstein Farm is Historic Boston Inc. (HBI), a 55-year-old nonprofit organization that preserves and redevelops historic buildings in Boston for new uses. HBI is partnering with three other nonprofit organizations on this more than $3 million project to turn one of Boston's oldest urban farms into a modern farm and urban agriculture training/education center The Trust for Public Land, the Urban Farming Institute, and North Bennet Street School.

Historic Boston Inc. as the developer of the property will be assembling and structuring all financing sources and managing the rehabilitation of the buildings. The Trust for Public Land will build the farm's planting beds and prepare the site for farming. The Urban Farming Institute will be the primary tenant and operator of the property and urban farming center after rehabilitation.   Students and instructors from North Bennet Street School's Preservation Carpentry program will stabilize the historic barn and restore historic elements on both the barn and the house. 

Once the renovation is completed the farm will become headquarters and a demonstration farming center for the Urban Farming Institute, an organization devoted to advancing commercial urban farming in Boston through land development, technical training and education of urban farming professionals. The site will also host numerous programs for the public. The farm is located adjacent to the Fairmount MBTA Commuter Rail Line at Morton Street. 

Rehabilitation plans include land and open areas cultivated for local food; classrooms for educational programs and a residence for an on-site farm manager in the historic house; an education/training center that will promote urban farming knowledge with classrooms, a demonstration kitchen and offices in the 1860s carriage barn for both farmers in training and public programs about farming and food production; a greenhouse to extend the New England growing season; and a farm stand with fresh produce available to neighbors and the public.