Westporters show support for Wakeman Town Farm


Photos contributed by WTF steward Michael Aitkenhead

On Wednesday, Feb. 3, Westport Town Hall’s auditorium was filled with citizens, students, and many other Wakeman Town Farm supporters to encourage the Board of Finance to vote in favor of a $667,000 appropriation to the community farm.

According to the farm’s website, the money will be used to “complete maintenance projects, create a community gathering space plus catering kitchen, and add restrooms for visitors.”

Staples’ teacher and Wakeman Town Farm steward Michael Aitkenhead presented the necessity of the loan and its plans first. Aitkenhead brought up a few key examples like introducing a $5 yearly fee for certain classes to use the farm to enhance curriculum and creating an industrial kitchen for classes and events.

The board also asked a number of questions about what programs the farm would run, what the influence of donations is, and whether the farm is currently functioning at maximum capacity.

Many Staples students were there in support of the farm like freshman Charles Colasurdo who spoke on behalf of the farm saying, “We come to you as friends, to help us improve the farm.”

Nick Moro ’15 also came to the podium to discuss his personal connection of working at the farm for Builders Beyond Borders and as an Eagle Scout. He said, “I don’t think you can value the experience these kids have by money. I think it’s a no-brainer.”

Resistance and tension arose when board member Tom Lasersohn posed the issue that all Westporters would be taxed for Wakeman Town Farm when only “10%” of the town uses it. Many audience-members spoke in opposition of this idea, like resident David Tucker who pointed out that this loan would add “64 cents per person” to taxes.

As the meeting wound down, student Gabe Pensak ’15 posed the question that will linger in the minds of board members until the Feb. 10 deciding meeting. “How often,” Pensak asked, “can your decision affect a whole generation of students in Westport?”

Update: Wakeman Town Farm received the $667,000 appropriation on March 4, 2015.