Just Roots is a nonprofit community organization located in Greenfield, Massachusetts. We began in 2008 as a grassroots group of concerned citizens looking to promote vegetable gardening and grow food on municipal land. Our goal is to increase knowledge about and demand for local food in Franklin County. The Greenfield Community Farm is the centerpiece of our work.
Just Roots currently has paid and volunteer staff members. The Just Roots Board of Directors has a monthly open meeting and working committee structure that community members are invited to participate in.
Our connections with the community, including local farm organizations, food distributors, educators, community gardeners, public institutions and social service networks, are essential to our success.
In 2014, Just Roots was officially approved as a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.
The Historic Poor Farm
The current Greenfield Community Farm on Leyden Road served as the Greenfield Town Poor Farm from 1849 until the 1950s. Poor farms were common throughout the United States from the mid-nineteenth century through the 1940s and 50s. Social Security, which began in 1935, ultimately replaced the role of the poor farm in American society.
The farm was sold to the Town of Greenfield on April 21, 1849 by Justin Root, the inspiration for our name Just Roots.
Since the 1950s, the Town has rented the land out to local farmers, mainly to grow feed corn. In 2009, a partnership between Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, the Town of Greenfield, Just Roots, the Pleasant Street Community Garden, and Greening Greenfield began the process of preserving the land through obtaining an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) from the state. In 2011, Just Roots was awarded a fifteen-year lease on the 61-acre parcel, for the purpose of creating the Greenfield Community Farm.
For more information about the APR process, see this article by Mount Grace.
Scanned copies of the Greenfield Town Farm Reports, starting in 1881, are now available online. These are excerpted from the annual town reports that are kept in the “Greenfield Room” of the Greenfield Public Library.