New Film Project – The Rebirth of a Farm

Kale and cabbage growing on Iron Ox Farm in Hamilton and Topsfield, Massachusetts.
Kale and cabbage growing on Iron Ox Farm in Hamilton and Topsfield, Massachusetts.

This fall saw the beginning of a new film project for me and my friend and frequent collaborator, Ryan Smith. Ryan and I are psyched to be working on this project with Neil Ungerleider, a long-time writer and producer at WCVB in Boston. Our film will follow the story of the former Green Meadows Farm in Hamilton and Topsfield, Massachusetts, as it becomes the new Iron Ox Farm. Green Meadows Farm was previously owned by General George Patton and his heirs, who sold it to the Essex County Greenbelt Association in 2019. The Greenbelt wanted the land to remain as an organic farm and invited local farmers and potential farmers to apply to be selected as the recipients of a 99-year ground lease to use the property.

Frame grab of Stacey Apple and Alex Cecchinelli (and their son Sebastian), owners of Iron Ox Farm.

The Greenbelt chose Stacey Apple and Alex Cecchinelli, owners of nearby Iron Ox Farm, for the ground lease, and Stacey and Alex began growing crops on the former Green Meadows site in the spring of 2021. Our film will follow their efforts of growing the farm over the next couple of years. Here’s a short teaser I edited from footage we shot this fall as we kicked off the project:

I’m really excited to share this story as it unfurls. As is mentioned in the video, starting a farm in northeastern Massachusetts is cost-prohibitive because of land values, and if Greenbelt’s ground lease program proves successful it could be a great model for conserving and creating other farms in the region. In the meantime, if you live in Essex County, you should definitely check out the CSA and farm stand offerings at Iron Ox Farm!

Drone view of Iron Ox Farm in the fall.
The new home of Iron Ox Farm abuts the beautiful wetlands of the Ipswich River.
Fresh cabbage.

Our Iron Ox Farm film is slated to be released in 2023, and we’re aiming for it to be 30 minutes in length. I really enjoy working on farms (as a filmmaker!) – in 2015 I produced a short film for The Trust for Public Land featuring the Urban Farming Institute about an urban farming project in Boston, which you can see below:

Enjoy!

-Jerry

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