August 6, 2008
ACE interns Amara, Becky, Brian, Cathy, Kathleen, and Sadie got a taste of farming in the city last Thursday afternoon as volunteers at the ReVision House Urban Farm in Dorchester. The interns were put to task spreading fertilizer around collard greens and cauliflower and weeding around bean plants. The farm is tucked away on Fabyan Street in a residential area, hidden from the main traffic streets. Also included are two other sites nearby. All three sites together make up a total of one acre of "farmland."
The farm is truly an urban farm. It is situated on previously vacant lots, which held triple-decker apartment buildings before burning down in 1970. Furthermore, there are no full-service grocery centers within the Farm's zip code of 02124 – creating a "food desert." This poses a problem for the residents living in the area with limited access to transportation to the full service grocery stores located miles away. ReVision’s small farm is able to produce enough for a farm stand, farmer's market stands (with a Brookline farm) at the Milton Farmer's Market, and 75 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) full-price and low-income shares in conjunction with Drumlin Farm. Finally, half of its produce goes to the 22 women currently staying in women's shelter ReVision House, located across the street, all for free.
ReVision House, Inc., a partner program, serves as a transitional shelter for expecting or young mothers, who come from situations of homelessness. For six months to two years, women stay at the ReVision House for recovery, future employment/housing searching through referrals, job and life skills training, and more. It is required that the women are working, obtaining their GED, or participating in their job training program at the House and Farm while they stay, in order to encourage self-advancement. Additionally, they and their children are able to eat plenty of healthy vegetables during their residence at the house.
Currently, ACE-coordinated MEJAN pro-bono lawyers are helping Victory Programs (a non-profit reVision is a part of) establish and operate a new urban farm at Olmstead Green. ACE also supports ReVision House Urban Farm by hosting a pick-up location at the ACE office.