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Jazz at the Farm: A string-light-lit evening of live jazz under the stars at the farmstead

Urban Farming Institute’s annual Jazz at the Farm fund-raiser brings 400 turkeys and fixings to low-income families for their Thanksgiving meals.

The Fowler Clark Epstein Farm in MattapanHistoric Boston, Inc.

Stroll among rows of tomatoes, herbs, and callaloo to the sounds of live jazz at the Urban Farming Institute’s fund-raiser “Jazz at the Farm” this Saturday evening at 5 p.m. at its headquarters in Mattapan.

Local Jazz Urbane’s musicians Zahili Zamora, Danny Thornburg, and Gregory Groover Jr. will each play 45-minute sets with their bands in front of the property’s barn for a three-hour intimate soirée.

Patricia Spence, executive director of the Urban Farming Institute, said the Fowler Clark Epstein Farm on the headquarters property “has this wonderful, peaceful, haven feeling to it — that’s what people say when they come.”


Ticket revenue supports UFI’s fourth annual Thanksgiving meal distribution, which delivers 400 turkeys and fixings such as sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and rice to low-income families and individuals.

Between October 2020 and August 2022, UFI donated roughly 7,000 meals to organizations such as Victory Human Services, which supports adult foster care for disabled and mentally challenged people; and Mattapan Food & Fitness, which focuses on making healthy food affordable. Along with these groups, multiple churches serving the Mattapan, Roxbury, and Dorchester area, including Morning Star Baptist Church in Mattapan and Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Dorchester, will also likely receive turkeys and fixings.

Event attendees can tour the small but mighty farm in the middle of Mattapan, and learn more about UFI, which is on track to purchase the over 200-year-old property from Historic Boston, Inc., by the end of the year.

UFI manages six farm sites throughout the city, amounting to a little over an acre’s worth of property, including the roughly three-fourths of an acre headquarters where one of the farms is situated. The other five farm sites scattered throughout the Boston area, including Astoria Quarter Acre Farm in Mattapan and Garrison-Trotter Farm in Roxbury, are small lots ranging from 12,000 to 14,000 square feet.


Spence said urban farming “is not the easiest thing to do. Unlike having just one-and-a-half acres in a rural area, we’ve actually got to go to six farm sites almost every day. You’ve got to turn the water on. You’ve got to harvest. It all comes back and is rinsed and packaged at our headquarters, but it’s a whole different ballgame because now you’re doing this in traffic — school’s back. People are back.”

UFI grows roughly 50 different crops and more than 100 varieties of food, herbs, and veggies.

Spence said, “The key for us is growing food that our community wants. My family’s from Jamaica, so for us it’s callaloo. We grow tons [at the farm]. It sells out every week. People are in line 45 minutes before the farm opens.

If you’re Haitian it might be lalo. Okra is also very big.”

UFI sells bundles of fresh produce at its weekly Farm Stand Fridays, open through mid-November from 1 to 5 p.m. SNAP, EBT, and WIC, among other food coupons, are accepted.

“Everybody’s got to eat,” said Spence. “We’re here to raise the health of our community.”

Jazz at the Farm. Saturday, Sept. 23. 5 to 8 p.m. The Urban Farming Institute of Boston, Inc., 487 Norfolk St., Mattapan. 21+. Tickets are $35 on Eventbrite.

Fridays are for produce distribution at the Urban Farming Institute’s Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, located at 487 Norfolk St. in Mattapan.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff


Kajsa Kedefors can be reached at