Slaughterhouse with a view: Adams Farm, Athol

Adams Farm, August 2015. Photo: Cathy Stanton
Adams Farm, August 2015. Photo: Cathy Stanton

There were five local slaughterhouses in Athol when Beverly and Lewis Adams began to sell packaged meat as part of a transition away from the increasingly unprofitable business of dairying. Lewis slaughtered the cows and pigs they raised on their Bearsden Road farm, an Italian butcher from Donelan’s market in Orange did the cutting, and Beverly packaged the meat for her husband to sell around town. The business grew, and after Lewis died suddenly in 1973, Beverly kept it going as a way to support her five children.

She was also continuing a trust from her mother-in-law, Hester (Comerford) Adams. Continue reading Slaughterhouse with a view: Adams Farm, Athol

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Farming at the edge of industry: Moore’s Maple Grove Farm, Orange

John and Laura Moore. Photo courtesy of the Moore family.
John and Laura Moore. Photo courtesy of the Moore family. (Click for larger image.)

John and Laura Moore met 50 years ago at a 4H gathering in Washington, DC. Both were teenagers from farm families, hers in Michigan, his in Orange, Massachusetts, and they were sent to Washington in recognition of their prize-winning farm products. They fell in love, carried on a long-distance romance, then married and settled down two miles north of the center of Orange on the Cross Road farm where John was raised. They have lived and farmed there ever since, raising four children who still live close by. Their grandchildren are the ninth generation of Moores to live in this part of town.

It is as rural and as pastoral a story as can be imagined. It seems—and the farm feels—very far removed from the center of Orange, in either its industrial heyday or its struggling present. And yet Moore’s Maple Grove Farm has reflected the changes not only in Orange but in the area’s larger industrial economy for well over a century, and the linkages between them challenge us to see the farm and the town as two sides of the same story. Continue reading Farming at the edge of industry: Moore’s Maple Grove Farm, Orange

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Deindustrial dairy: Chase Hill Farm, Warwick

chase-hill-blue-sky
Chase Hill Farm, July 2015. Photo: Cathy Stanton.

Chase Hill Farm in Warwick feels like one of the most peaceful places on earth. It’s on one of those roads where you look twice when a car happens to drive by. There’s a view of Mount Monadnock across the fields to the northeast. Brown and white cows are usually to be seen grazing on one of the hillsides. A mysterious little doorway—the entrance to the cheese cave, it turns out—leads into the side of a hill. The only disruption is from the sheepdog who comes to meet you, but when Mark Fellows appears in response to her barking, he simply advises, “The best way to get her to stop is just to ignore her.”

The calm is partly a reflection of the farm’s location. But it’s also something that has been achieved gradually over the three decades since Mark and his wife Jeannette took over his parents’ business. Slowly and thoughtfully, they’ve been disentangling what was once a conventional commercial dairy from the surprisingly complex processes that have made cow’s milk one of the most fully industrialized of food products. At the same time, they’re part of a new partnership between farmers and land conservationists, a relationship that was by no means always amicable. Continue reading Deindustrial dairy: Chase Hill Farm, Warwick

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