ABOUT OUR FARM
Berry Hill Farm continues the farming practices developed under the defunct Briar Creek Farm–a small Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) entity I started back in 2008. At its inception, Briar Creek Farm was a micro-farm that specialized in growing organic vegetables, melons, & grapes for local customers. We followed the organic farming paradigm by growing produce without the use of GMO seeds, pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. We also raised pastured heritage New Hampshire and Rhode Island Red chickens, Cornish cross meat birds, & eggs. We tended honey bees that produced lovely goldenrod honey. I earned a Master Herbalist’s Certification that not only gave me the knowledge of wild plants and mushrooms, but how to use them in medicinal herbal tinctures, decoctions and teas–responsibly wildcrafted, of course. I crafted artisan jams from the fruit and berries grown on our farm. We emulated mentor Elliot Coleman’s growing more on less design which he adapted from the early French, and further research gave the spouse tips on how to till the land, build the hoop houses, and construct the chicken coops. Our little farm became self sustaining and was FUN!
But as things were going well, the Weather had other ideas for us. Soon we experienced several years of icy springs, then wet, chilly summer days and all that put the kibosh on Briar Creek Farm’s land. The land became too wet as portions were usually under water. This made it difficult to rotate crops, and there was no place left to move the chickens every day. Our little plot could no longer sustain the variety of produce we grew, and Briar Creek Farm came to an end.
But we didn’t give up.
Fast forward to 2018, and we were fortunate to find Berry Hill Farm. Previously known as Berry Hill Gardens Bed & Breakfast, the proprietors specialized in creating magnificent gardens (read about it here). We now have more land that is dry and able to grow crops, bees and chickens! During the down years at Briar Creek Farm, I learned a great deal of what worked and what didn’t in terms of farming and the farming business. Thus, we’ve streamlined our operation to support specialty crops, meat birds, bees and fiber.
FROM EGG TO PLATE
The eggs from our flocks come from heritage breed chickens collected and hatched out 2 years ago–from Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire and Black Gourmet breeds. Will most likely hatch out a new batch of New Hampshire birds (hoping that the winter will be good to them to start chicks in the Spring).
Our meat birds — the Cornish cross variety– are the type you find in the grocery store. The difference in local small farm raised birds verses the commercial ones is the quality of meat you’re getting. Unlike commercial farms, farm raised birds have room to grow; they are not crowded, they’ve got green grass to eat, and an overall healthy environment. Sunshine, clean pasture, and fresh air help to develop a healthier and better tasting product. Typically our birds reach 6-8 lbs avg. weight after dispatch and processing.
BAAA RAM EWE
And now we’re raising an incredible sheep breed–Clun Forest sheep–known for its tri-purpose use which is milk, meat and fiber. These are a hearty breed of sheep; vigorous, healthy, easy lambers, and all around beautiful. We chose these sheep for all the aforementioned and to compliment and supplement the fiber arts. Perhaps as the flock grows, we’ll sell our lambs for market, too.
As mentioned in the opening statement, specializing in one or 2 crops is more advantageous in the long run, especially on smaller farms. The attention to detail to one crop in terms of vigor, production and quantity makes the best sense. We decided on garlic and are experimenting with hardneck varieties that grow fabulous in the cold climates. To further sustainability, we’ll collect their bulbils and redistribute them for future crops. In addition, we’ll concentrate on bees and honey.
All in good time.