Posted by: scintillatingspeck | November 16, 2009

Spearheading a petition: Keep the Bean Farm growing food!

Well, a little grassroots activism is sure good for the soul!  Ha, I just made a typo in that last word a moment ago– I wrote “soil” instead of “soul.”  Extraordinarily appropriate in this context.

I’m spearheading a petition effort to urge my city, Northampton, Massachusetts, to maintain farming as the primary use of the Bean Farm.  The City is proposing to turn the land into sports fields and a sports complex.  Meanwhile, the Agricultural Commission has voted unanimously to recommend that the Bean property continue to be farmed.

It’s hard to overstate how strongly I feel about this.  Local food is important for so many reasons, many of which are included in the text of the petition:

WHEREAS, the Bean Family Farm on Spring St. in Florence, MA represents important farming history for our community, having been farmed continuously since pre-colonial times,

WHEREAS, the soil type on the majority of this property meets the USDA requirements to be considered prime farmland defined as “land that is best suited to producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops. It has the soil quality, growing season, and moisture supply needed to economically produce a sustained high yield of crops when it is treated and managed using acceptable farming methods. Prime farmland produces the highest yields with minimal inputs of energy and economic resources, and farming it results in the least damage to the environment,”

WHEREAS, the converging crises of climate change, global resource depletion, and economic instability indicate need to protect our community’s food security by strengthening our local food production,

WHEREAS, there is increasing demand for food grown in our region, and locally produced food keeps money in our local economy and improves our health,

WHEREAS, the Sustainable Northampton Plan establishes as a target “maintaining farmland area” in the City,

WHEREAS, the Northampton Agriculture Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Bean property continue to be farmed,

THEREFORE, as citizens of Northampton, we urge the City to maintain farming as the primary use of the Bean property, and to put this farmland in permanent agricultural preservation.

If you are a Northampton resident, I invite you to sign the petition at  We are aiming to get 1,000 signatures by December 7, 2009.

I am also tearing my hair out trying to figure out how to make this go viral.  Any advice out there?  So far I’ve thought of relevant local listservs, Facebook, Twitter, email, and circulating paper petitions.  I’ve provided some “get the word out” suggestions to our group working on this effort, Grow Food in Northampton, in the hopes that everyone will do their part to spread the word.  Plus I would really, really, really love some signature-gathering volunteers.

I guess it’s a good sign that we already have 5 signatures within the first hour or so of the petition going live, late on a Sunday night!  I can tell that my new obsession will be checking my control panel on to see how many signatures we’re up to.



  1. I can’t sign for obvious reasons, but I tweeted your petition and will a few more times, in hopes that it makes it into the hands of a few like-minded stranger-neighbors.

  2. Yay, thanks, Alison!

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