2024 Season Update

It has been more than a year and a half since our last blog post on the website! Sorry for this negligence, but please know we have been very busy with the multiple phases of transition that Hope’s Edge Farm is currently undergoing. Here is an attempt to bring you up to date.

Lambs: Since mid-March I have been midwifing new born lambs—22 running around right now. This number of lambs is far more than originally planned due to a failure on my part at gender recognition. You would think that after many years of raising sheep I would be able to recognize a male from a female. Nevertheless, when I separated the 2023 ram lambs from the females in September, I somehow missed a ram lamb. He was thus mingling with the flock of ewes throughout the fall, happily breeding old and young females.

As is usual, some of the newborns require bottle feeding and/or other special attention. Of the 22 survivors, seven require this special care. Two of the seven are being nurse-maided off the farm by a group of compassionate friends. Caring for the rest and for the herd as a whole is, as you might expect, taking much of my time. Since I intend this year to be the last one raising lambs, I am retiring from midwifing lambs with a big bang.

Crop Production: I am continuing to scale back both the growing acreage and the diversity of crops. In summer of 2023 I grew vegetables on less than an acre. The Knox County Gleaners (KCG) helped make sure the majority of the produce was distributed to those who were food insecure or homeless and to food pantries/soup kitchens. I intend to continue this association with KCG in 2024 on even less acreage. I’m also continuing my association with Primo restaurant, albeit on a similarly reduced scale.

Building Projects: Other farm-related activities for 2024 include two infrastructure projects. One will create a “porch roof” on the south-facing side of the barn to divert water away from the main building and provide an over-winter loafing area for the remaining flock of sheep. The other project will renovate the cabin in the upper corner of the property in order to provide housing for a future farmer. I am currently seeking a person with carpentry skills who might be interested in working with me to accomplish the renovation. If you know of someone who might be interested, please refer them to me. This work will be paid…although volunteers are always welcome.

Finding the Next Farmer: The work on the cabin is closely related to the important transition looming: finding the next farm steward(s). The opportunity is currently listed via two websites: the Maine Farmland Trust FarmLink program and the New England Farmland Finder. These two websites link prospective (or current) farmers with landowners looking for farmers. At this date we have had a few inquiries but no takers so far. The lack of on-farm housing is a major factor, putting further emphasis on completing the cabin and making it a four season living space. We are optimistic that finding the next farm steward is on the horizon, but finding someone for this coming season is unlikely.

In the future, when we do find the person (s) to continue caring for this piece of “heaven on earth”, they will be asked to comply with the terms of the easement agreement that will be finalized sometime this summer. The easement will guarantee that Hope’s Edge Farm will join with many of Maine’s other properties designated as “prime farmland”, protected from development and thereby providing a place for food production far into the future and for generations to come.

To our many farm friends, please feel free to drop by and visit the lambs, walk the fields and if so moved, join the never-ending efforts toward weed control. We’d love to see you.

– Tom

A 2023 Update from Jason & Rachel

To our 2022 CSA Members – 

We will echo Tom’s sentiments as we thank you for your support with our great experiment last season! We took a big step in agreeing to manage the Farm in Tom’s absence and are both glad that we did. We loved getting to know each of you who visited the Farm and farm stand regularly. We learned more than we had expected, not only about farming and running a business, but also about ourselves

After much conversation, we’ve decided to return to our familiar roles as volunteers at Hope’s Edge. We’re looking forward to being able to give our home gardens and families a bit more attention and may even set up a multi-family farm stand with our home-grown produce. Wherever our paths lead, we both still intend to remain connected to the Hope’s Edge community. Perhaps you’ll join us on this year’s volunteer crew!

While this marks the end of the Hope’s Edge Farm CSA and farm stand, our neighbors at Hope Orchards are hosting a growing CSA and farm stand as well. Kyle and Anna are entering their 3rd year of running K&A CSA and are like-minded in their intentions to build soil and community resilience through farming. If you’re interested in joining another CSA, we hope you’ll get in touch with them.

Happy Spring! We are grateful to know you.

Rachel & Jason