Nestled into a scenic valley in the northwest corner of Massachusetts, with views of the Taconic Range in New York, the Green Mountains in Vermont, and the Berkshires in Massachusetts, Caretaker Farm has been a welcoming home for the community over many years.
The 35 acres of land are a woven fabric of cropland, pastures, ponds, woodland, a stream, and agricultural buildings.
On a tour of the farm you will notice various alternative energy projects. Both our portable electric chicken fence and one of our permanent electric property fences are powered by solar panels. There is also a solar panel that powers an electric pump to provide water to our animals on pasture.A new 9.9 kilowatt photovoltaic system was added in 2008. This system will provide 100 percent of the farm's electricity needs.
We use sustainable methods of farming to ensure that the land will continue to be restored and improved for future generations. We grow over 200 varieties of 40 different crops each season. Instead of chemical fertilizers, on-farm compost created from our animals and vegetable matter is used to build up the fertility, structure, and tilth of the soil. A portion of the cropland is taken out of vegetable production each year in order to let it rest. Various cover crops and mulches are used to reduce weed and pest pressure, increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture, reduce erosion, and build the soil. For pest control we rely on floating row covers (a white, polyester fabric that acts a physical barrier to pests), crop rotation, and sometimes removing pests by hand.
Our farm animals play an integral role in the overall farm organism. We currently have about 90 chickens, 8 pigs, 4 beef cows, and one dairy cow. They create tons (literally) of incredible compost that we spread on the land and use in our greenhouse soil mix; they turn our compost, give a natural rhythm to the farm, educate apprentices and members of the farm through our care of them, share companionship with us, and help rejuvenate our pastures. Our animals also provide our members with a local source of meat and eggs that are humanely raised without growth hormones or unnecessary antibiotics.
Our chickens are free-range and they move around our vegetable fields and pastures in “chicken tractors”.
The pigs at Caretaker Farm work as hard as we do. Inside the barn, they move around the various pens turning a wood chip/cow manure mixture into rich compost. Outside, the pigs help turn new land for future vegetable production.
We have several White Galloway beef cows. Very mild tempered, good foragers, and hardy in the winter, this rare breed is moved around the pastures on a rotational grazing schedule.
There are two ponds on the farm and a stream bisects the land. Woodlands are interspersed with the fields and there is even a vernal pool. Wildlife abounds in this environment and each day seems to bring new birds, mammals, and insects. We strive to work in accordance with the natural world as we move towards our agricultural goals.