Your Farm was started in 2006 by Kevin and Laura Channell. The farm was previously a hay field serving a beef farm in Orford, New Hampshire. The farm has beautiful soils for growing vegetables and is classified as prime agricultural farmland. The fertile river bottom sandy loam soils drain very well and do not have any stones, a rare fine in New England. The farm consists of three tiers down to the Connecticut River. The slopes are in woodland or are kept in hay.
In the summer of 2006, the Channell’s started plowing up sections of hay land to prepare the soil for organic vegetable production. About an acre of crops were trialed that first year and a greenhouse was built on the farm for plant starts. The farm uses a wood pellet furnace to heat the greenhouse. Many of the crops are stared in the greenhouse and then transplanted by hand into the fields. These crops are seeded into soil blocks made with rich compost from Vermont Compost Company to make healthy transplants. The greenhouse is started every season in March with onions, leeks, and scallions getting seeded first.
In 2007, the farm grew 2 acres of organic vegetables and started selling them at the Norwich, Woodstock, and Lebanon Farmers’ Markets, and through the beginnings of a CSA. The response from customers was favorable and the demand outweighed the supply. More land was plowed, bare fallowed and cover cropped to expand production for the next season. Plans were also being made to build a farmhouse and washing station barn. That fall, the foundation for the farmhouse was poured. Kevin and Laura were looking forward to living on the farm so they could better steward the land.
In 2008, the farmhouse was completed in the spring and the washing station barn was added in the summer. The washing station barn is where all the crops get washed and processed for market. Immediately after crops are harvested from the field, they are brought to the cool, shady barn to be washed. Once they are washed they go into a large walk-in cooler to ensure the freshness and quality of the produce. From the cooler, they go straight to market. There were 3.5 acres of organic vegetables grown and sold at farmers’ markets and CSA. The farm also raised four lambs on the extra hay land. Also in 2008, irrigation was installed with underground pipes throughout the farm to reach many of the fields. A good water source, such as the Connecticut River, is essential for vegetable growing, and the irrigation system is necessary for the farm’s light sand loam soils.
In 2009, the entire farm was certified organic through Vermont Organic Farmers. Your Farm grew 5.5 acres of vegetables that season. The markets and CSA continued to grow. The farm added 2,000 asparagus crowns and some rhubarb that spring. About 50 laying hens were growing and started to lay fresh brown eggs that summer. A movable chicken coop was built and is used to rotate the hens around the farm to allow them to graze through old crops, scratch for insects, and fertilize the soil. The farm raised 2 pigs that year. The Channell’s also hired their first farm help that season.
In 2010, Your Farm grew 6.5 acres of organic vegetables and raised 5 lambs, 4 pigs, 50 laying hens, and 100 broiler chickens. A root cellar was completed and will be used to store root crops for winter markets and a winter CSA. A 30′ x 96′ high tunnel was added to help extend the season on the farm. Season extension is important for farming in the short Vermont growing season. Early spring crops can be sown inside the high tunnel while there is still snow on the fields outside. Hot crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers can be grown in the tunnel during the summer to get an earlier harvest. Hardy greens, like spinach, can be grown in the high tunnel to ensure a fresh supply of greens through the winter months.
In 2011, the farm grew 10 acres of organic vegtables for 200 CSA members, the Norwich Farmers’ Market and wholesale accounts. It was the first season to pick our asparagus patch. It was very popular at the markets and very delicious! We added 60 blueberry bushes and 300 raspberry bushes to the farm. We decided to build a workshop barn on top of the root cellar. This is very handy for storing all our tools and equipment. It was our first year to use that new high tunnel we constructed the year before. It worked great for summer tomatoes and winter spinach. We harvested over an acre of potatoes. These stored nicely for our new Winter CSA membership. We served over 50 Winter CSA members with a variety of winter greens, root crops, and preserved summer crops.
2013 is bringing some exciting changes to Your Farm. First, Kevin & Laura are expecting twin boys to be born in June! While they are excited to become parents, they felt it was necessary to move closer to their families back in their home state of Indiana. With twins on the way, they anticipate the need for some helping hands from the grandparents and auntie nearby. But Your Farm carries on! An experienced young couple, Danielle Allen and Ben Dana, have purchased the farm and will be continuing to grow quality organic food for our community.