What's Happening Down on the Weston Town Farm

The Lachat Town Farm

As the world progresses further into the 21st Century, traditional farmhouses have been rapidly disappearing from rural landscapes. In fact, that was the original plan for the farmhouse on the Lachat Farm off Godfrey Road West, which was deeded to the town and Nature Conservancy by the late Leon Lachat. The farmhouse was in need of serious repairs, and in 2011, the Board of Selectmen presented the idea of demolishing the 1770 farmhouse.

However, that is when Friends of Lachat, a group spearheaded by Westonite Carol Baldwin, stepped in to save the building. Ms. Baldwin firmly believes "the farmhouse provides the heart of the farm." Although the house had become an eyesore to most on-lookers, she saw a piece of history.

"I just couldn't fathom tearing down one of the oldest houses in town," Ms. Baldwin said passionately. Thus, after convincing the selectmen to save the building until private donors could be found, the fund raising and construction began to restore the house.

As a result of the ongoing construction, the farmhouse is slowly beginning to take shape. The entire back portion of the house has been rebuilt, which has given the house never-before-had handicap access. Also, foundation work has been completed.

Construction

However, there is more work to be done. The roof needs to be replaced along with chimney and fireplace repairs. Luckily, the 1772 Foundation, an organization that helps preserve "American historical treasures", recently handed over a $15,000 grant for chimney and roof repairs.

In order for the house to be habitable for a potential in-house farm manager, a new heating and air conditioning unit needs to be installed. Amy Kalafa, a member of the Lachat Oversight Commission, said the house also needs plumbing and electrical work, and new windows.

Recently, town officials met with members of the Lachat Oversight Commission and town funds were approved to fix the flat part of the farmhouse roof. The funding will come from the Lachat Endowment Fund, set up years ago for maintenance of the Lachat buildings and property.

The hope is to have the roof project completed by November. As to when the house as a whole will be finished, the answer remains "as soon as possible," Ms. Baldwin said.

Community Garden

The farmhouse renovations are not the only new additions to the Lachat Farm, however. The property now features a fenced in all-organic community garden. The garden has 42 plots that were all built in one day by Weston residents and the Kiwanis Club. There are three different sized beds that were constructed: 4' x 7', 4' x 12' and 4' x 20'. Residents may rent individual plots and plant whatever they want in them.

Ms. Baldwin is thrilled about the new addition of the garden because she hopes it will "become the soul of Weston," where families will come to bond with one another over gardening for years to come. The garden provides a gathering place in a non-political manner; it is simply a place where people who are passionate about gardening and farming can come together, she said. The skill level of the gardeners varies. According to Ms. Kalafa, "there are people who have been gardening their whole lives, where gardening runs in their families, and then you have people who are literally afraid to get their hands dirty."

But the disparity is hardly a bad thing, Ms. Kalafa pointed out. With the varied skill level, residents have a chance to help one another with their gardens and learn from each other, she said.

To help the hungry, the Weston Food Bank has a couple of plots where the food that is grown goes directly to the Food Bank. "If you go in the Food Bank, you'll see cans and boxes of pasta, which is great, but families also need food with vitamins and nutrients and that's what we are able to provide," Ms. Kalafa said proudly.

Although the summer is winding down, it is not too late to reserve your own plot. There are still eight 4' x 12' plots remaining to be filled. If residents are interested, they are urged to contact Kim Burke at burkekimm@gmail.com. If residents decide to reserve a plot, they will be able to do planting in the fall with options like lettuce, peas, cabbage and spinach. Overall, tomatoes are the most popular commodity being grown in the garden.

Fund Raising

When the Lachat Farm project was started, members knew fund raising was going to be difficult, but they were certainly up for the challenge. So far, $215,000 has been raised for the repairs of the house. However, about $65,000 is still needed. Ms. Baldwin noted that the goal is "within reach." Friends of Lachat is planning a Harvest Dinner and Dance next month in the pasture of Weston's Wells Hill Farm to raise more money for the Lachat project. Ms. Baldwin described the event as a "fancy, special occasion" with flat shoes recommended. The dinner is set for Saturday, Sept. 13, beginning at 6 pm. Tickets are $175 per person.

By Ben Roth, Weston Forum Intern on August 29, 2014


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