When I was about 10 years old, I ended up moving a bunch of frogs from a pond near my house to another pond, because the first pond was being destroyed to make room for new houses. This was all prior to the protection of wetlands we have today. In some small way, I’d like to think I made a difference, even if temporary. Saving animals and land has always been important to me and I have even spoken at several town hall meetings concerning zoning, agriculture and wetlands.
I live near Lookout Farm in Natick, Massachusetts. This is one of the oldest continually operating farms in the country and has been used as farm land since the Native Americans lived in the area prior to colonial times. Recently, the farm started producing hard cider using their apple crop as a base for the product.
I was, up until recently, very unfamiliar with hard cider. I of course know about beer, wine and liquor, but cider with alcoholic content wasn’t something drank nor knew much about. This year, Lookout Farm opened a tasting room and is now distributing their product to local markets. This income will help offset the costs of running other pieces of the farms operation.
You might ask why this is blog worthy? First, I don’t have any ties to the farm beyond being an abutter. As such, it is for me important this land remains a farm. However, the expanding business also illustrated to me one way a farm can raise revenue while not selling the land, likely its most valuable asset. Hard cider is of course not new, our colonial forefathers were enjoying the drink long before the current rage of microbreweries and flavored vodkas came onto the scene.
To me this demonstrates how farms can, with some ingenuity find new ways to stay viable. For example, many farmers would throw away kale plants before they went to flower. The flowers of many greens are edible. Now, some of these same farmers are selling the flowers as unique and edible flowers to specialty markets.
Other farms are growing hard to find micro greens, unique fruits, producing compost or even using sand deposits onsite as an income source. At Findview Farm in Gorham, Maine, the Grants sell the sand to towns and contractors to use. Without this income, the entire family might not be able to be supported by the farm alone.
Farming isn’t easy and the amount of capital it takes run a successful farming operation is significant. Buying local produce, joining a CSA (community supported agriculture), such as the one at Silverbrook farm in Dartmouth, Massachusetts or visiting a farm nearby when they are open are several ways we can easily support these important pieces of societal fabric.
In addition to the benefits you bring to the farming community, you are bringing healthy food to you and your family. When so much of what we consume is overly processed and can be shipped 1000’s of miles before reaching our homes, eating from local farms removes so much of the negatives of food from our tables.