Maureen Layden does not profess to be a farmer by trade, she's actually a doctor. A doctor who shares a dream with several other Parkway residents - to create a New Brook Farm.
The Brook Farm Historic Site sits at the Gardens at Gethsemane, and was the scene of a failed Transcendalist utopian society in the 1850s.
On Monday morning, Layden met with West Roxbury District Councilor Matt O'Malley, State Rep. Ed Coppinger, Ann Cushing and John Regan of State Sen. Mike Rush's office, Terry Crowley of City Councilor At-Large John Connolly's office, and Chris Tracy, West Roxbury Neighborhood Coordinator for the Mayor's Office, at the Westbury to discuss the New Brook Farm.
Layden is one of several residents, along with Bill Tuttle, who have been discussing the formation of a neighborhood farming option. Layden said that through research, she learned that four other groups in the last 10 years have also tried to farm the land off Baker Street.
"The first issue is to start getting non-profit status," said Layden, who estimated it could be anywhere from three months to a year. The group would also need to establish bylaws for the non-profit.
She said that there are Native American artifacts on the property, as well as other possibly interesting archaeological items. She said one option, although expensive, would be to lay down additional soil on top of those layers so the artifacts would still be preserved for future generations to dig up.
As the elected officials and their staff listened to Layden over cups of coffee, she said that the group is being "sensitive to Alan" MacKinnon, the president of the Gardens at Gethsemane, who also lives on the property and would be affected by any development. MacKinnon has said he is interested in the proposal and supports it at present time as it moves forward.
Layden said the group is looking for residents to get involved in several facets including:
- finding an attorney who can help gain non-profit status/or become a part of another non-profit;
- board members; a treasurer, a secretary;
- help building a website;
- and also, farmers.
O'Malley suggested forming a partnership with the nearby West Roxbury Education Complex, and Layden said they'd like to get grants to work with the school on the site. She added she was impressed by recent students from the school who knew all about Brook Farm and Margaret Fuller.
Layden said the group has reached out to several farming organizations including Allandale Farm, the Newton Community Farm, and the Roslindale Village Farmers' Market, to learn more about farming, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs).
Layden said she's reached out to Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) officials at the state level because the farm is on DCR property. Coppinger and Regan offered to help with that process, while O'Malley, Crowley and Tracy, said they could help on the city level.
If you are interested in getting involved with the New Brook Farm or want to know more, contact Bill Tuttle at WDTuttle3@alum.mit.edu.