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A historic Boston homestead becomes a model urban farm and community hub.

Fowler Clark Epstein Urban Farm, Mattapan, MA

It requires a stretch of the imagination to envision the 300-acre farm, open fields, and forests that once surrounded the house (ca. 1786) and barn (ca. 1874) at the Fowler Clark Epstein site. Just as the urban streets and three-story homes that now define this inner-city neighborhood have hidden the agricultural history of Mattapan, each of the three families that occupied the farm over the past 230 years transformed the site, layering their renovations over the original buildings and grounds to create the forms we see today.

The Epstein family is responsible for the majority of the landscape features that define the site: eclectic assemblies of stone and brick walls, several of which contain wonderful architectural elements salvaged from older buildings in Boston. The outdoor spaces include brick patios, stone walkways, and a cobblestone driveway to the barn with a hand-laid brick “E” emblem.

Working with the Trust for Public Land, Historic Boston, Perkins + Will, and community members, RDG’s Keith Zaltzberg has helped transform this former farmstead into a model urban farm center. Many of the unique and exemplary architectural features of the historic buildings have been preserved and reused, while the surrounding areas once again produce healthy fruits and vegetables for local consumption. Universally accessible paths and buildings ensure that all community members can come to appreciate this living testimony to the former families who lived and worked the land.

Key Features

  • Greenhouse
  • Annual and perennial production areas
  • Universally accessible paths, entrances, and gathering spaces
  • Irrigation plan
  • Wash station
  • Stormwater infrastructure
  • Parking for visitors and farm vehicles

Services Provided

  • Coordination between multiple organizations and stakeholders
  • Public workshops and community meetings
  • Site analyses
  • Zoning and permitting
  • Detailed planting plans
  • Construction documents
  • Construction oversight

When the work is completed, the 30,000-square-foot property, which includes a house, a barn, and a jumbled landscape of stone walkways, brick arches, and other architectural embellishments, will again be a farm, as well as headquarters for the Urban Farming Institute of Boston, one of the project partners.

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