Spotlight on Birch Rise Farm

By Suzy Hodgson

“I was surprised that I could raise animals especially pigs and not feel terrified.  I’d grown up outside of Detroit so this experience was way outside my comfort zone,” says Kate Osgood, co-owner of Birch Rise Farm in New Hampshire.   With her husband Ken’s experience growing up with pigs and the help of her in-laws who are local real estate agents, the Osgoods were able to find and purchase their family home and jump into farming in 2016.

Kate Osgood, Birch Rise Farm. Photo credit: Joy Lynn Johnson

At the end of the summer 2019, Kate and Ken had 175 meat birds going for processing. Over the year, Kate sells about 900 meat birds which are processed off the farm. She also has 250 egg layers, two Katahadin meat sheep, six Berkshire sows to breed, one boar, and four meat pigs which roam comfortably in the farm’s pasture and woodland paddocks.  Birch Rise Farm is one of the few registered breeders of Berkshire pigs in New Hampshire. Continue reading

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Spotlight on Tanglebloom Farm & Melissa Masters

By Melissa Pasanen

At Tanglebloom Flower Farm, daffodils are part of the risk management strategy to protect the farm’s high-value flower crops like foxglove and delphinium. “I have so many problems with voles,” farmer-owner Melissa Masters says. “I heard they dislike daffodils, so I bought a bunch of cheap ones and interplanted them in the perennial beds.”

Melissa, 34, started her cut flower farm and floral design business in Brookline in 2014. The enterprise is about the same age as her son and, like all youngsters, each brings demands and joys.

Photo Credit: Melissa Masters

Locally-grown bouquets.

The idea to focus on cut flowers came from Melissa’s own wedding for which she sourced flowers from a local farm in Ithaca, NY. Eighty to ninety percent of cut flowers bought in the U.S. are imported, Melissa explains. “So many people are buying local and organic food, joining vegetable CSA’s, but then they pick up just any bouquet.” Continue reading

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Spotlight on Arbor Farmstead & Alisha Utter

In 2016, Alisha Utter launched Arbor Farmstead in the Champlain Islands with her partner, Kyle Bowley.  Arbor Farmstead focuses on plant-based agriculture, following the practices of “veganic” farming which builds on organic practices but eschews all animal products/byproducts from fish meal to animal manure. A diverse mix of plants and practices,  flexibility in responding to customers, and strategic planning in balancing farm and off-farm work, all work together to help Alisha and Kyle build their farm’s resilience to production, market, financial and human risks. 

Alisha at Burlington Farmers Market

When Alisha and Kyle started looking for a place to set down farming roots, they cast their net wide around Vermont. In Belvidere, they found 60 acres they loved but were concerned about distance to off-farm job opportunities and markets for their products. The couple traded acreage for proximity to Burlington, eventually taking out a 30-year mortgage on seven acres with a house and space for Kyle’s woodshop in Grand Isle.

The mix of plants and practices is evolving on their three acres of cleared land towards a fully regenerative, perennial-focused agriculture system with a mix of berries like currants, gooseberries, elderberries and aronia. Last year, they added 40 peach and sour cherry trees. One high tunnel, funded through NRCS EQIP, protects fall raspberries and they will be adding a second high tunnel for additional fruit production this spring. Having completed UVM’s Farmer Training Program in 2014, Alisha is now finishing a Ph.D. in UVM’s department of Plant and Soil Science, and her dissertation focuses on plant-based agriculture. Continue reading

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