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About us

The Montview Neighborhood Farm is a small-scale organic farm, located on 3.2 acres of city-owned conservation land. We use hand tools and human power to grow our crops, and sell them to the surrounding neighborhood at an on-site farm stand. Our farm is part of a larger vision of neighborhood food production, in which communities are strengthened and dependence on fossil fuel is lessened.

Starting the project

We are a group of Northampton residents who came together with the hopes of buying the 1.6 acres of farmland near Montview Ave., previously owned by Walter Michelowski. We found ourselves outbid by a developer. Faced with the reality of land prices in this area, we began dialogue with the Conservation Commission, who had recently approved organic farming on other parcels of conservation land. We began meeting with the neighborhood and applying for use of the land.

In November of '05 we signed a lease with the city and began work on the land. Local landscapers and neighborhood residents dropped off leaves and woodchips. This provided us with free materials, and prevented the "wastes" from traveling long distances to sit in landfills. We also had composted manure brought in from a local dairy farm. With these resources we began to sheet mulch. Sheet mulching has been described as "lasagna gardening" and "composting in place". It is a process of laying down layers of carbon or "brown" materials with nitrogen or "green" materials, which then decompose in place, enriching the soil and killing the existing plant matter with out disrupting the soil structure or using gas-powered machinery.

Our Farming Methods

Part of our philosophy of sustainable agriculture includes reducing the use of fossil fuels in food production. The sheet mulching method described above one of the no-till farming methods we use. No-till farming is a way of growing crops without disturbing the soil through tillage. Tillage is used by many farmers to remove weeds, mix in soil amendments like fertilizers, and prepare the soil surface for seeding. This can lead to unfavorable effects like soil compaction, loss of organic matter, disruption of soil microbes and other life, and topsoil erosion. Tilling with gas-powered machinery such as tractors or roto-tillers also increases the amount of energy used to produce food.

Food for thought

  • Food travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to table.
  • Fresh produce loses nutrients when transported thousands of miles. Plant cells shrink, sugars turn to starches, and produce loses its vitality.
  • Locally grown food purchased soon after harvest retains its nutrients and flavor.
  • In the last few years, Phillip Morris, Kelloggs, General Mills, PepsiCo and Cola Cola have all taken over popular organic brands. Their ownership of these brands is often not indicated on the product labels.
  • Last October, an amendment passed that allows the food giants to add non-organic ingredients, synthetic additives, antibiotics, and other impurities to processed food and still label it organic.