Robbins Farm Park
The agricultural history of Robbins Farm is well known in Arlington, and documented in Oakes Plimpton’s book Robbins Farm Park (Penobscot Press, 3rd Edition, 2007).
This book is a treasure trove of Arlington history, telling the fascinating story of the life of Nathan Robbins, gentleman farmer and true Yankee eccentric. It recounts how his beloved farm came to be preserved as an equally beloved Park, now well known for the remarkable views it affords of Boston. Oral histories, letters, newspaper articles, and over 65 illustrations and photos document the story of the Robbins’ unusual marriage, his love for the land and a disappearing way of life he shared with the children who played there.
The new edition includes new stories and pictures and brings us up to date. Written by Friends of Robbins Farm Park founder and historian Oakes Plimpton. To purchase a copy, follow this link to the Friends of Robbins Farm Park web site.
Victory Gardens at the Park
During World War II, soon after the park was acquired by the Town in 1942, space was appropriated for Victory Gardens. The program continued through at least 1946. From Robbins Farm Park:
“At Robbins Farm the past year there were 66 Victory Gardens, which produced 1,100 bushels of vegetables, 600 pounds of pumpkin and winter squash, and small quantities of other unusual vegetables; from this product 9,108 pints of food were canned; the cost to the gardeners was $593.75; the value of the crop was estimated at $3,352. There were 234 members of the gardeners’ families who worked on this area, all of these persons being neighbors living in the vicinity of Robbins Farm.”
In this photo from the book, Ralph Sexton, Gordon Farrow and Earle Burke open their Victory Garden in the spring of 1946. The plot is near the location of Robbins Farm Garden.
Arlington Food Co-op Garden
“Food grown with lots of love, and just enough discipline.”
From the early days of the Arlington Food Co-op, members maintained a roughly 1,000 square foot vegetable garden in Patricia Watson’s yard on Addison Street. On Saturday mornings, they would work in the garden, finishing around noon with taking the harvest to the Co-op, where the produce was immediately scooped up by waiting patrons.
The Co-op garden was not only about growing vegetables, but also fostered an atmosphere of learning, experimentation, and community. Dozens of new gardeners and their children learned the techniques of organic gardening, composting, seed-starting, proper harvesting, and the superiority of locally-grown, incredibly-fresh vegetables.
After the Co-op closed, the garden continued, with the harvest distributed among the gardeners. Sadly, the garden closed after Patricia’s death in 2006 when her house was sold. The legacy of the Co-op garden is a model for organizing a collective garden run by a small number of people which worked efficiently and effectively for two decades.