Devens: Winning The Battle For Business

Where troops in full battle gear once lined in formation, high-tech execs squint to take aim at targets today—this time with new patents and breakthroughs in their sights.

By the BF Staff
From the May/June 2018 Issue

Devens is a diverse and thriving Massachusetts community with close to 400 residents. The former Army base also is home to more than 100 businesses, nonprofits and government agencies across 4,400 acres.

MassDevelopment has redeveloped the enterprise zone in partnership with the Devens Enterprise Commission and the three neighboring towns—Ayer, Harvard and Shirley—resulting in an improved regional economy. The organizations in this mixed-use community employ nearly 5,000 people and Devens has become a national model for military base reuse.

Emerson Green is an excellent example of repurposing and community development that is taking place in Devens. In 2013, MassDevelopment selected a partnership including NOW Communities (Concord, MA), Ajax Partners (Lexington, MA) and architects Union Studio (Providence, RI) to develop this new, vibrant residential neighborhood, which will feature 124 single-family homes, duplexes and multi-family apartments that are sustainably constructed, energy efficient and intentionally compact. This neighborhood development, in a convenient area for Devens employees and families, is part of the push to provide housing options for the growing number of workers at Devens businesses.

In 2016, This Old House featured one of Emerson Green’s homes as its Idea House, featuring the highest quality and most efficient building products in a sustainable, low-maintenance home. The house appeared on the This Old House television show and in the show’s magazine. The 17 units in Phase I have sold out and the developers expect to start work on Phase II soon.

Emerson Green lies just two miles north of Route 2 and offers easy access to Route 495 and I-190. Restaurants, museums and shopping in Leominster, Concord and Worcester are less than 30 minutes away, and residents can get to downtown Boston within an hour. There also is convenient access to the MBTA Commuter Rail. Emerson Green is a short distance away from the trails and paths of Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge, which offers a variety of recreational activities from bird-watching to cross-country skiing. Devens markets itself as a center point for nature sightseeing—the community is less than two hours away from the lakes in New Hampshire, the beaches at the North Shore, the coast of Maine, and Cape Cod and Rhode Island.

Devens provides exceptional educational opportunities for every stage of learning from the Evergreen Garden Playschool, to the Oxbow Schoolhouse, to the Francis W. Parker Charter School, and finally Mount Wachusett Community College. Nearby employers include high-profile companies like Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson Matthey Pharma Services, Laddawn, N.B. Kenney Mechanical Contractors, New England Studios, Nypro Healthcare and more.

For more information on Emerson Green, visit


Locally grown food can be hard to find, but these products are always worth adding to your cart in the supermarket.

Devens Massachusetts
Little Leaf Farms’ greenhouse uses recycled rainwater and is equipped with advanced LED lighting and ultra-high-efficiency heating systems.

Devens is proud to be home to Little Leaf Farms, which delivers its products to nearby stores within a day of harvest. MassDevelopment sold 14 acres of land at Devens and provided a $4.5 million loan to Little Leaf Farms toward the construction of its state-of-the-art greenhouse facility, which is helping to meet the region’s demand for high-quality, pesticide-free and locally grown leafy green vegetables.

Little Leaf Farms grows spring mix lettuce and red and green mix lettuce with unparalleled freshness, taste and quality compared to the 98 percent of U.S. lettuce grown in California and Arizona and shipped 3,000 miles.

MassDevelopment’s loan helped finance the construction of the greenhouse and the installation of automated growing equipment for this operation. Little Leaf Farms is completing its Phase II expansion project and plans to grow even larger to meet demand.

Little Leaf Farms’ greenhouse operations are both technologically-advanced and environmentally-friendly, thanks to a number of state-of-the-art features that include rainwater recycling, advanced LED lighting and ultra-high efficiency heating systems. The greens are grown hydroponically with 100 percent recycled rainwater. The advanced fertilization and irrigation system at Little Leaf Farms uses up to 90 percent less water than field-grown greens. The greenhouse employs some of the best glass in the world to maximize the use of natural sunlight. In winter months with less natural light, Little Leaf Farms supplements light from the sun with LED-powered grow lights, which consume 40 percent less electricity than regular grow lights. This company also uses a natural gas-powered heating system that operates with over 95 percent efficiency. A large portion of the energy used at Little Leaf Farms is solar-powered.

Little Leaf Farms sells to all the major retail grocers in the region and many leading restaurants and institutions, along with partnering with local organizations to support food banks and other good causes. These connections include Loaves and Fishes, The Greater Boston Food Bank and Braveheart.

For more information on Little Leaf Farms, see