Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Farms of Framingham

With snow falling today it's perhaps a little difficult to think back a few months to when our local farms were finishing their fall harvest after the spring and summer growing season.

For a large town with the population density and commercial development that Framingham has, we are blessed to still have a living agricultural tradition to enrich our community. Clustered in the northwest corner of town, there are several working farms that offer a variety of products to the public.

Last October, the neighborhood group Nobscot Neighbors and the Framingham Agricultural Committee sponsored Framingham Farm Day, during which most of the properties described below were open to the public. If you missed the event, hopefully it will be repeated next year, but until then, drive by and admire the bucolic views, visit the web sites, and most importantly, support your local farmers!

Hanson's Farm at 20 Nixon Road has been run now by five generations of the Hanson family. With 52 acres dedicated to fruits and vegetables and over 100 acres of hay fields, Hanson's has an abundance of products that they offer at their farm stand, local farmer's markets, and through their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, in which local residents buy a share of the harvest.

Stearns Farm at 862 Edmands Road dates back to 1723 when Timothy Stearns bought a large tract of land in the area. It was run as a family farm for over 270 years before being incorporated as a non-profit CSA in 1994. Much of the work on the farm is performed by volunteers, most of whom are CSA share participants.

Eastleigh Farm at 1062 Edmands Road is a licensed dairy farm that was in the same family from the early 1900s until 1981. For fifteen years it operated as a beef farm until being converted to a dairy seven years ago by the current owner, Framingham native Doug Stephan. With the price of milk sold into the federal milk pool unprofitable for many producers, Stephan is now transitioning to selling raw milk, locally made cheeses and other dairy products directly to the public.

Baiting Brook Tree Farm at 32 Nixon Road is a blend of a commercial Christmas tree operation and 80 acres of permanently, publicly accessible open space. Owners George and DD Harrington still operate the seasonal tree business, but granted a conversation restriction to the Sudbury Valley Trustees so the land will remain protected from development.