Celebrating Dracut’s Legacy of Farms and Freedom

By: Brian Genest – Feb. 2022

Break out the party horns: February 26 is Dracut’s birthday. As the town turns 321, there’s a lot to celebrate about our past, present, and future. One of those things is Dracut’s rich agricultural heritage.
“No farms, no food” isn’t just a catchy bumper sticker slogan, it’s also the harsh reality.

In Dracut, we’re fortunate to continue to have a number of working farms. Our local farms provide us with fresh food, healthier eating choices and the opportunity to support in-town commerce and our town farmers. DracutFarms.com has details about all the farms in town, the Community Preservation Act and other information about local agriculture.

Open space, preservation and conservation remain high priorities for the town. Right now, the newly-formed Beaver Brook Farm Development Ad-Hoc Subcommittee is digging in and plowing ahead to help make some decisions about the future of the 24-acre parcel.

The seven members recently approved a charter, mission, and goals to guide the subcommittee as it works in conjunction with The Friends of Beaver Brook Farm, a private non-profit group, on land-use plans and other long-term considerations for the preserved property.

The subcommittee is working off the plan that was developed by a previous committee under the leadership of Ellis Neofotistos. The Board of Selectmen approved that plan in 2020 by a 4-1 vote.

Selectman Heather Santiago-Hutchings voted against the plan.
The decaying out buildings are the immediate focus at Beaver Brook Farm. Several options are being discussed, including selling those buildings to the developer who bought and plans to restore the historic Justus Richardson farmhouse on the property.

At the Beaver Brook Farm and all over town, Dracut’s farming roots run deep. So does our town’s patriotism. Even before America was a nation, farmers from here in Dracut joined the battle for freedom, putting down their hand tools and picking up muskets. They left their farms and joined the battlefield, fighting for our independence in the Revolutionary War under the leadership of Joseph Bradley Varnum.

From the 1700s to today, citizens of Dracut have proudly served our nation in times of war and peace. Throughout history, they have fought for and defended freedom at home and abroad. In two World Wars, as well as in Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and other locations around the world, citizens of Dracut have served our country in uniform.

Our heroes from Dracut who gave the ultimate sacrifice are remembered and honored with monuments, parks, and other memorials in town. For example, Dracut’s World War I monument, which got restored recently thanks to the efforts of a private group, honors the 164 town citizens who fought in The Great War and never returned home to Dracut.

Farms and freedom are just two things that make Dracut’s legacy special. It’s a legacy we should celebrate and continue as we look to the next 300 years. Happy birthday, Dracut!

— Brian Genest is the producer and host of Eye on Dracut, a monthly news magazine show about town happenings that airs on DATV Channel 8 and online at DracutTV.org. ◊