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Belmont Acres Farm

January 3, 2014

Farming for the Future—while Farming on the Edge

A portion of the Ogilby family’s 10-acre Belmont Acres farm abuts the city line of Cambridge, Massachusetts—Harvard University is only a mile away. Generations of Henry Ogilby’s family have owned this land since the 1600s, watching as the greater Boston metropolis has grown and swallowed the land around the farm.

Although farm manager Michael Chase—who works as a Harvard plant biologist when he’s not on the farm—tills only five acres, that’s enough land to supply the Belmont Acres CSA and farmstand with an abundance of in-season, naturally grown local food. Having such a large customer base nearby has benefited the farm’s profitability through direct marketing. But being so close to the urban edge also has its challenges.

In 2009, the city of Cambridge proposed a highway that would run through Belmont Acres, threatening to take the farm’s land through eminent domain. But the community rallied and American Farmland Trust got involved to help save the historic property.

The Massachusetts Agricultural Preservation Restriction program—a farmland protection program that AFT has supported for decades—also helped to ease some of the pressure. “AFT helped us, along with Belmont Land Trust, to put the farmland in an agricultural easement, which is very important to me because it ensures continuity of the farm,” said Ogilby.

Photo by Belmont Acres Farm/Flickr