Peabody must plant more money at Brooksby Farms

May 7, 2017

FILE PHOTO | SPENSER HASAK
Mama and her baby lamb, residents of Brooksby Farm in Peabody.

By ADAM SWIFT

PEABODY — The city-run Brooksby Farm is more popular than ever, and with that popularity have come some increased operating costs.

The farm manager and the city’s recreation director are requesting a transfer of $45,000 from the farm’s revolving fund to cover additional overtime costs and part-time wages for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The City Council’s finance committee is slated to consider the request at its meeting on Thursday.

“Contributing factors include increased minimum wage and the upturn of customers, from school children and families to the elderly,” Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. stated in a letter to the council. “The farm has become even more popular and will generate over $1.5 million in revenue for FY 2017.”

The farm operates outside the city’s general budget via a revolving fund, with money coming in from Brooksby Farm profits covering the cost of its operation. According to the letter from Bettencourt, there is currently a balance of $481,885 in the Brooksby Farm revolving fund.

The popularity of the farm; which features animals, a store, and apple picking in the fall; has increased because of word of mouth, good reviews, and the ever-present role of social media.

“This popularity has caused an increased need in dedicated staff to provide more direction, safety and to assure that all patrons have an enjoyable experience while visiting the farm,” said Bettencourt.

In addition to the personnel costs, there’s also a request to use $94,200 from the revolving fund to buy a new John Deere tractor and loader. The existing equipment at Brooksby can no longer handle the workload without continuous breakdowns and costly repairs, according to Bettencourt.

Adding a new, state-of-the-art tractor to the fleet will let the farm dedicate one tractor to spraying the orchards.

The other tractors will be used to take care of plowing and harrowing, laying plastic and planting the gardens, and mowing and property maintenance.