Over 300 years of History
The farm has existed in various forms since the 1700’s. The property was part of a land grant from the King of England to Samuel Davis. The current barn and house were built by Samuel’s son, Jonathan Hayes and his wife Mary Ham, both of whom are buried on the property. Beginning in 1931, the property was operated as a dairy farm by John Fernald. After his death, his daughter, Debbie Tasker, working with LCHIP, placed much of the property in a conservation easement that bears his name. Gray and Kitty Cornwell purchased the property from Debbie in 1991 and founded Old Orchard Farm. We are just the eighth family to occupy the farm and look forward to continuing the tradition of working with the land to strengthen our community.
“Did either of you have a background in farming?” Some variation of this question is usually one of the first things people ask when they find out about Old Orchard Farm.
Over recent years, as we became more aware of the flaws in our current food system, a family dream emerged to move to a farm and raise our own food. Food that offered superior nutrition from healthy animals raised humanely in their natural environment. Food that didn’t come from hundreds of miles away. Food that made the land better not worse. Food we could feel good about.
We began reading books, and going to workshops and conferences, even volunteering on a local farm. We discovered a concept called permaculture in which the whole ecological system is considered and people and agriculture are part of that system. In 2017 after years of exploring properties on the Seacoast, Old Orchard Farm suddenly appeared on our radar and we fell in love. The Cornwell’s had created a special place where natural resources and wildlife habitats were intentionally protected. And they raised livestock in ways that enhanced the land, and didn’t exploit it. The farmhouse was also updated with solar panels, solar hot water and a carbon neutral furnace that burned wood from the forest.
Since taking the farm’s reigns, we’ve continued to learn, not only about raising animals but about the intricacies of this piece of land we now call home. Even being fairly new to farming we’ve found a measure of success and are proud we can help meet the need for locally, humanely raised food in our community.
- Brian and Shawna Godbout