BEDFORD — The red barn at The Educational Farm at Joppa Hill has been a symbol of preservation of the town’s agricultural past and, after many years of fundraising, repairs are underway.
The barn has been closed since September 2012 because a leaking roof, decaying boards and asbestos in the ceiling made it unsafe.
“In order to have full public access we would have had to bring the structure up to class two, which would have meant removing the entire roof structure and spending five times more than the current repairs will cost,” said board Chairman Michael Scanlon. “The current repairs are going to cost $60,000, which we have raised already. We are hoping to bring the small office and old milk room up to class two to allow public access that will cost us an additional $20,000, which we are currently trying to raise.”
The board is also looking to replace some windows and doors that are not included in the current budget at an additional cost of $10,000 to $20,000. These upgrades will be completed if enough money can be raised.
Unfortunately, the two silos in front of the barn have to be removed because of decay, Scanlon said.
Scanlon said the second phase of the project will begin with fundraising to help construct a separate building for classroom and office space.
In 2001, the town purchased the 312-acre farm on Joppa Hill Road for $3.6 million, and some of the land was soon sold to Amherst for its conservation efforts. In 2002, 35 acres were leased to what is now known as The Educational Farm at Joppa Hill, which has offered educational programs, tours, animal sponsorships, seasonal events and summer camps for many years.
The Community Garden, under the guidance of board member Michelle Moore, began last spring to provide an organic garden, featuring 10-by-20-foot plots in which area residents can grow vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers. For an annual donation of $45, gardeners can reserve their plot. The farm hopes to create a community-supported agriculture garden, or CSA, where anyone can buy shares and receive food directly from the farm.
There are also new additions to the farm family, including four Katahdin sheep and a llama.
The farm’s annual spring fair is from 2 to 6 p.m., Saturday, June 7; rain date is June 8.
“Along with our usual pony rides food and fun, we are looking for vendors that would like to rent a table to sell there items,” said Annette L. Handy, executive director.
The summer camp will run from June 23 through Aug. 11. Depending on the week, campers will learn and interact with the different animals on the farm, do a pond study, learn about ecological systems, gardening and nutrition.
The fall fair takes place from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4; rain date is Oct. 7. Adults and children are also invited to celebrate Halloween on the farm from 3 to 6 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 26.
Fundraising and volunteers help make the farm a success, and the farm needs the community’s continued support.
“We certainly want to thank the community and especially those people who donated to this project for their support. We still have additional money to raise in order to complete some of the additional repairs that will improve the barn beyond the needed repairs,” said Scanlon.
For more information visit theeducationalfarm.org, or call Annette Handy at 472-4724.