Time for a party at the old farm

Raker makes progress at the Fowler-Clark-Epstein Farm. Photo courtesy Historic Boston, Inc.

Fowler-Clark-Epstein rehab is complete; celebration set

The completed restoration of the historic Fowler-Clark-Epstein Farm in Mattapan will be celebrated at a public-invited event at the site on June 25 featuring food, family fun, and a talk by Mayor Martin J. Walsh. 

The Norfolk Street property, parts of which date to 1786, had fallen to the brink of destruction by 2012. For most of its 230-year history, the farm was owned by three families: the Fowlers, the Clarks, and, most notably, the Epsteins. After an aging Ida Epstein left the property for a nursing home in 2010, the house remained vacant for some five years.

In 2012, the farm was the subject of a heated lawsuit between the city of Boston and the Epstein Family Trust. Eventually, numerous complaints, unpaid bills, and code violations prompted the city to seize the property. A deal was reached in 2014, when the property was purchased by Historic Boston Incorporated (HBI). It is one of six properties in Dorchester and Mattapan that have been designated as city landmarks by the Boston Landmarks Commission.

Today, the renovated barn and house is offering office space, classrooms, and a demonstration kitchen. And the once-overgrown half-acre of land now features a greenhouse, a working farm, and a stand at which visitors can purchase produce.

HBI is leasing the property to the Urban Farming Institute of Boston (UFI), which will use the space for its main offices and instruction site. There are plans to sublet space to Baraka Community Wellness, which hopes to share the demonstration kitchen and classrooms to advance its health and wellness opportunities. 

The June 25 party will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the restoration work along with live music and family-friendly activities. While produce from the farm won’t be ready for consumption that day, food trucks from other UFI sites will be on site with their produce. After the event, the farm will be up and running, and UFI plans to host events and instruction for the public on the property. 

Renovations cost $3.7 million and involved collaboration between HBI, UFI, the North Bennet Street School, and The Trust for Public Land. “Everybody brought value to the table, which is very important, but everybody also brought some fundraising to the table,” says Kathy Kottaridis, the executive director at HBI. “We had to raise a lot of money for this one, but at the end of the day, everybody was involved in pieces of that and we had a lot of very generous individuals and foundations.”

A celebration at the farm – located at 487 Norfolk St., Mattapan – will take place on Mon., June 25, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dedication ceremonies will be held at 6 p.m. and a community photograph will be taken at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. 

More information is available here.