Brookfield is a small town in central Massachusetts nestled along the banks of the Quaboag River. Established in 1660, it was once part of the Quaboag Plantation, an area settled by colonists that migrated inland from the coastal community of Ipswich. Six towns emerged from that settlement including North, East, and West Brookfield, Warren, and New Braintree. Travelers driving on Route 9 from the Berkshires may pass through Brookfield on the way to Boston. Folks could read the news in the local weekly Quaboag Current or Spencer New Leader. However, Brookfield residents have an alternative press in the home-grown monthly “The Brookfield Citizen.” The publisher is APPLE Seed Inc. an acronym for Average People Promoting a Loving Environment. The monthly publication has become part of the fabric of life.
“The Brookfield Citizen” is the result of a community survey conducted by the Congregational Church in 1993. People wanted to know what was happening in town. The publication began with the motto: Community Identity through Communication. The Managing Editor is Philip Peirce said he is not a journalist and the 16 page publication is not a newspaper. It’s a journal, a grassroots sharing of information written for people about local events. A way to understand what is going on in the community. Since 1995, a new edition is published monthly. In all 1,700 journals are printed and distributed to 3,390 residents via the local post office and by mail to locations as far away as Scotland and Hawaii. A free copy is available at the Library as well.
The wry Peirce 79, is the second managing editor. He took over the role eight years ago from Ted Davis. Peirce was born in Worcester and graduated from Burncoat High School. Peirce stated he completed the equivalent of a two year Industrial Engineering degree at the former Worcester Junior College. He moved to Brookfield in the early 1990s and became interested in public service after the Board sought volunteers to sit on committees. He responded and became involved in town governance. Peirce has served on the Housing Authority Board, Finance Committee, and as a Selectman. Those five years on the Select Board were marred by a contentious relationship with the Police Chief. A heart attack brought an end to his tenure as Selectman. He is currently on the Board of Assessors and Apple Country Fair Committee.
“The Brookfield Citizen” has a staff of eight regular columnists and contributors. The topics include gardening, hunting, recipes, Selectman’s response, senior news, sports, and news from the Fire Chief, Highway, and Water Departments. The Look Back page features articles from 50 to 100 years ago taken from the archives of the Brookfield Times or Spencer Leader. The current issue even managed to squeeze in a cartoon. The publication is intended to be the “good news of Brookfield” and purposefully keeps the storyline up beat and entertaining. The police logs, obituaries and “hard news” are for the Quaboag Current and Spencer New Leader to cover.
The publication is free to residents. The entire staff are volunteers. The costs are covered by 40 percent advertising revenue, 60 percent donations and grants. Some of the grant funding is from The John Jeppson Memorial Fund for Brookfield administered by The Greater Worcester Community Foundation.
by Frances Ann Wychorski