Canton Resident Looks to Establish 'Permaculture Food Forest'

An example of a permaculture food forest.
An example of a permaculture food forest.

In his vision to create a “permaculture food forest” on several acres of his property on Westview Drive, Jeffrey Pardo is looking to "create a low maintenance, sustainable plant-based food production and agroforesty system." 

“It should connect with the land and the soil and provide good healthy food,” Pardo said.

Pardo is manager for Abi Gezunt Farm, LLC at 11 Westview Drive. His vision for the “food forest” or "forest garden" would involve approximately four acres. It emphasizes perennials and would include items such as fruit and nut trees, vines and berries. It can also incorporate as grains, shrubs, vegetables, legumes and more. The concept makes uses of layers and companion planting and is designed to work with land's ecology and leaves room for wild animals. 

“It’s going to be a rather light footprint on the land,” he said.

Pardo said his idea is to plant numerous varieties, he said providing further diversification and less susceptibility without the need for chemicals. The idea for example, might involve 20 different kinds of apples, not just one. 

“The only hope I have is to develop good food from good soil,” he said.

Pardo and his family purchased the Canton property a little more than one year ago. Originally from Florida, Pardo also spent several years in Burlington. 

The farm would be a multi-year process but first he has to clear up some issues as to whether the activity is allowed "by right" or needs to be regulated by the town, mostly due wetlands on the property. 

Pardo has appeared at least twice before the town’s Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency IWWA, seeking a “jurisdictional determination.”

While the agency has determined it has jurisdiction over the activity, an appeal filed on behalf of the farm by Attorney Timothy Hollister of Shipman and Goodwin, contends that state statute allows his client to move ahead.

At a June 13 meeting, the IWWA voted that the activity was "determined not to be a permitted agricultural use under Section 4.1a of the Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Regulations and that a permit application must be filed to conduct a regulated activity in a regulated area." The agency felt an existing farm was necessary for farming exemptions allowed by the state. 

Despite some increased growing activity on the site, including planting of clover and a vegetable plot, the agency at an Aug. 8 meeting still felt the land did not constitute an existing farm and that a permit is needed. 

On Aug. 28, the agency held a meeting, mostly in executive session, to discuss the matter but ultimately voted to take no further action. 

While towns can discuss pending litigation in closed-door sessions and Kenneth R. Slater, Jr. of Halloran & Sage  who is representing the town on the matter said he could not discuss details, he did say it's more of a procedural question than a statement on the activity. 

“The commission is certainly of supporting farming in the community,” Slater said. “In this case, the commission believes Abi Gezunt Farm did not follow the proper procedure to obtain permission to establish a farm on the property. Hopefully the necessary procedure could be followed so the commission could consider the proposed farm.” 

In the appeal paperwork, Hollister argues that state law does not require an existing farm for the exemption and "alternatively" that "the land is currently used for farming and constitutes and existing farm operation." 

Pardo, an attorney himself, said he can’t comment on specifics of the ongoing issue but said the disagreement is amicable.

“I have tremendous respect for the agency,” he said. “Good, well meaning people are allowed to have differences of opinion.”

If an agreement is not reached the matter would be decided in court. 

Laura Bellmay September 06, 2013 at 06:21 AM
Awesome idea. See website of "Starhawk" for other permaculture ideas.
Son of Camo September 09, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Farming is not hard enough already--one now needs to follow the "proper procedure" to do so. Hope someone besides the lawyers win this one.


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