Preserving the farmhouse: Simple Gifts Farm in Amherst continuing rehabilitation effort

  • Contractors and volunteers work on replacing siding on the historic Simple Gifts farmhouse this summer. Submitted Photo

Staff Writer
Thursday, January 03, 2019

AMHERST — An historic farmhouse in North Amherst, where apprentices who work at the Simple Gifts Farm live, is continuing to be preserved and rehabilitated.

Built in 1833, the Ingram-Dickinson homestead, at 1089 North Pleasant St., is in the midst of a $400,000 project being overseen by the North Amherst Community Farm, the nonprofit group that owns the building and the 32 acres of farmland leased to Simple Gifts owners Jeremy Barker Plotkin and David Tepfer.

The nonprofit purchased the property in 2005 from the Dziekanowski family, which had used it as a dairy operation.

When complete in the spring, the renovated building will provide affordable housing for apprentice farmers and the farm managers working at Simple Gifts Farm.

Barker Plotkin said a couple of farm workers are living in the house this winter, but the hope is that the renovation will be done by March, when the apprentice crew arrives for the growing season.

The renovated building will include seven bedrooms in two living units. Barker Plotkin said these units can be subdivided in a flexible away, for both single apprentice farmers and for a farm manager with a family.

Gregory Farmer, a Chicopee-based historic buildings consultant, assisted the nonprofit in researching the nearly two-century history of the farmhouse, which were used to develop the plans for restoration and remodeling.

The project is using $130,000 from the town’s Community Preservation Act account, as well as financial and in-kind support from the Dziekanowski family, Interfaith Housing Corporation of Amherst, Kestrel Land Trust, Habitat for Humanity and Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School

In addition, North Amherst Community Farm has launched an online fundraising campaign to collect an additional $10,000. That Go Fund Me appeal is at https://www.gofundme.com/help-restore-the-historic-farmhouse

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.