To the editor,
May 14 marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of Massaro Community Farm. On that date in 2008 the Selectmen approved the Conservation Commission’s “Proposal for a Community Supported Farm on the Massaro Farm.” After stopping a demolition order on the dairy barn, fighting off a rec complex, getting a grant for a planning study and another grant and matching private funds to restore the crumbling barn, and then untold volunteer hours, the Farm became the pride of Woodbridge.
So it is a profound disappointment to see a plan before the town for a parking lot on Field 4, the field originally designated for fruit and berry production. The plan (available at Town Hall for review) involves a massive cut-and-fill excavation that will disfigure the heart of the farm and obliterate the viewshed from most every direction. One has to wonder, do the directors of Massaro Community Farm and of the CSA understand that they are the conservators of the farm, not its developers? Their plan diminishes the farm’s mission to “Keep Farming, Feed People, Build Community,” and it counters the 2015-2025 Woodbridge Town Plan of Conservation and Development, which recognizes our “farmland soils are an irreplaceable asset.”
Conservation is more than a Prius in the driveway or a solar panel on the roof. It’s saving for future generations what’s left of our natural resources, among them prime farmland. Two professionals have already demonstrated that parking can be provided elsewhere without taking farmland. The farm stewards can do better.
Federal, state and private money was invested in Field 4 for deer fencing, irrigation, and equipment to support future production. Donors and taxpayers have the reasonable expectation that those investments are not wasted.
Would CSA members, whose subscriptions are the lifeblood of the farm, prefer a parking lot on Field 4 or an organic orchard? Or a resident to buy an apple or a pint of Massaro-grown raspberries? Poll the community and find out.
Consuming Field 4 to gain 12 spaces, where the earthen retaining slopes cover more area that the lot itself, is revealing. It portends some future expansion, a tilt toward more programs at the expense of farming. The “sustainable” practice would be to utilize existing meeting rooms and parking in the town center, rather than needlessly duplicating facilities and infrastructure.
Our Town Plan’s Near-Term Action Agenda cites the need to “preserve farmland, fertile soils, and local agribusiness.” Town officials should kindly inform our farm’s stewards to do better, and come back with an alternative that doesn’t consume the farm’s natural resources.
Editor’s note: Mr. Urbano was a member of the Conservation Commission that founded the farm, and the first president of Massaro Farm CSA.