A Hidden Gem of Healing in North Easton’s Borderland State Park
Located inside Borderland State Park, the Smith Farm in North Easton has an ethereal type of draw, a magic to it that once you see it, you can’t help but want to be connected to it.
“It’s surprising how few people from this area know about it,” said Rich Eastman, Executive Director of Smith Farm at Borderland. “There’s a tremendous draw to the place, something about it that is hard for people to explain when they go by it. They all just talk about how peaceful it is and how it makes them feel.”
The farmhouse was originally built in 1880 by Dr. Asahel Smith, a local physician who was described as a “clairvoyant healer.” It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and was offered up for a curatorship by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation back in 2009.
“The DCR curatorship program comes in when the state can’t afford to renovate a historic property,” Eastman said. “They open it up to the public for bid, and then the people that win the bid are responsible for renovating the place, after which they have anywhere from a 40-year to a 60-year lease, rent-free.”
The two people who initially put in the bid are no longer involved, and now it is run by a board of directors, Smith Farm at Borderland, Inc. Eastman became involved in 2014, when he said he “stumbled upon” the farm while doing genealogy research on his family. Dr. Asahel Smith was his third great grandfather.
“I had a bunch of pictures that I brought down to the curator. We met, one thing led to another, and they asked if I wanted to be on the board,” Eastman said. “And here I still am.”
Dr. Asahel Smith, the “Clairvoyant Healer”
According to the history on the Smith Farm website, Asahel Smith worked as a shoemaker in his early days in Easton, but by 1850 became a “clairvoyant physician, utilizing botanical remedies to heal his patients.” At age 66, he built the farm with the help of four of his sons, where he continued to practice the healing arts.
“It was more that he was a forerunner of holistic medicine, I think,” Eastman said. “It’s funny, he lived for about 30 years just five to 10 minutes from the farm area, but when he got into his 60s, he bought that land. Initially, it was going to be his pasture land, 75 acres to grow his herbs, but from what I understand he developed quite a following for his work as a healer, including some prominent families from the area such as the Ames family.”
Bringing Smith Farm Back to Life
The initial fundraising campaigns to restore the Smith farmhouse were very successful. The project received funds from local benefactor Avery Lee Williams, the Easton Lions Club, and two rounds of Community Preservation Act funding from the Town of Easton.
The most recent campaign was raising just over $30,000 for the installation of a new septic system that was put in late last year.
“The septic is in, and the last thing we’ve got to do with that is work with the state to try and get a potable water supply,” Eastman said. “Right now, the old well on the property was deemed not potable, so the director of the curatorship program is working to get us a new well.”
The Smith Farmhouse Still Needs Interior Work
In addition to needing drinking water brought to the farmhouse, it also needs to have the interior completely redone.
“Everything has been gutted,” Eastman said. “It’s been completely reframed inside, it has to be sheet rocked and everything needs to be installed.”
He said there is a proposal before the Southeastern Regional Voc-Tech school to have students do the remaining interior electric and plumbing work, hanging sheet rock and finishing the interior.
“Once that’s one, it’s ours to do what we want,” Eastman said.
The Future Plan for the Smith Farm at Borderland
For some time now, the farm has been the site of monthly Tai Chi classes, occasional yoga classes, and events such as fairs, weddings and concerts. Eastman said all of those events will continue, but having the farmhouse renovated will allow them to turn the building into a healing center, just as it once was under his third-great grandfather’s stewardship.
“It will be primarily a community wellness facility with a focus on veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental issues,” Eastman said, noting that Dr. Smith himself was a Civil War veteran. “We realized a while ago that there wasn’t any place for vets to go, short of institutional places like the Brockton VA and other places like that.”
Eastman said the peaceful serenity of the farm has already helped local vets through individual and group therapy programs with the Brockton VA, and that while the veterans loved it, the VA program ran out of money and ended about a year and a half ago.
“Once we get the inside done, we can welcome them back with our own programs,” he said. “Using it as a wellness facility, that’s right in line with what Dr. Smith originally wanted for the farm. Plus the fact that he was a Civil War veteran himself, we know he would approve.”