History of the Farm

Before 1976

The land now used by Brookfield Farm is owned by the Shaw family and is mainly used for growing corn. It has also been used as a chicken farm, a dairy farm, and an orchard during this century.

1976 - 79

Claire and David Fortier purchase the last three building lots in a 90-acre tract of agriculutral and forest land (the purchase was made possible by the owners' sale of land on the Holyoke Range which the Commonwealth of Massachusetts bought to pursue its plan to create the Holyoke Range State Park). The owners merge the three lots which become the 64-acre tract now in the Trust's ownership. The Fortiers make the first attempts at working the land. With the help of their son, they build a small pole barn, plow the first fields, and set up Fortier Farm, Inc, a for-profit corporation to help with the goal of developing a farm.

1980 - 86

Ian and Nicki Robb are hired to develop the farm. Small organic gardens started. One cow purchased, and equipment priorities drawn up. Four-acre market garden eventually developed to sell produce to local wholesalers. Farm name changed to Brookfield Farm.

1986

Brookfield Farm becomes third community supported farm in the US. Apprentices taken for first time. Fifty-five member households join in supporting the farm. Approximately 4 acres of vegetable production.

1987

Creation of the BFCT to take on responsibility of running farm and clarifying and expanding the mission to include education of farmers and the public.

1987 - 91

Farm grows from 55 households to 100. Members pay their share of the running costs and in return may take as much produce as they need (if available). Approximately 7 acres of vegetable production. Apprenticeship program develops, taking on 2-3 trainees each year. Educational programs begin using the farm as an "outdoor learning center."

1989

Town of Amherst buys the development rights to the land of the Trust, setting it aside for agricultural use only.

1992 - 94

Farm maintains support from approximately 140 households, but struggles with retaining members due to increased competition and difficulty with share structure. Ten acres of vegetable production. Farm experiences a financial crisis. Apprentices not taken. Original founders pass away. Ian Robb leaves the farm for personal reasons. Dan Kaplan hired as assistant manager.

1995 - 1999

Nicki Robb leaves the farm. Dan Kaplan hired as farm manager. Share structure is changed to reflect changes in local market. Membership grows to 570 households. Infrastructure, finances, and membership base is developed. 25 acres of vegetable production. Apprenticeship program is rekindled and CRAFT program is initiated.

2000 - 2003

Membership grows to 520 households. 24 acres of vegetable production expanded onto Gray's Farm & Bramble Hill Farm. Assistant Manager's position (full time/year round) created. Irrigation system & compost pad installed. Equipment upgraded. CSA distribution developed & streamlined. More local farm products offered for sale at CSA distribution. Barn Raising Campaign launched in June 2003

2004 - present

Complete renovation and construction of farm center (including root cellar, office, greenhouse, and workshop). Membership steady at 525 shares and 30 acres of production. Equipment continues to be upgraded. Winter Share inaugurated in 2005. Production intiated at Small One?s Farm and phased out at Bramble Hill Farm.