Narrowing the gap: Stillman Quality Meats and the Turkey Farm

Young turkeys at Stillman Quality Meats, Hardwick. Photo: Cathy Stanton
Young turkeys at Stillman Quality Meats, Hardwick. Photo: Cathy Stanton.

On a humid July day, the barn at the first of Kate Stillman’s two farmsteads in Hardwick is filled with cheeping. Dozens, or perhaps hundreds, of young turkeys occupy one side of the nineteenth-century structure, their pink faces wearing the perplexed look that young turkeys always seem to have. Their short lives will end a few months later at a second farm in the southern part of town, where Kate has recently added a poultry abatoir that gives her greater control over the growing meat business she started ten years ago.

The presence of the turkeys links Stillman Quality Meats with the past of this particular farm at the corner of Thresher and Jackson Roads. But it also represents an interesting moment in the longer history of agriculture in central Massachusetts. Continue reading Narrowing the gap: Stillman Quality Meats and the Turkey Farm

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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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