The summer started off in white for Felice Martin, 19-year-old lessee of Drumlin Hill Farm at Sunny Valley Preserve, and new husband Dan Weed, whose parents also lease land at Sunny Valley. The couple was married June 2 and plans to manage their new farm together.
One of Felice’s primary duties each day is feeding the livestock, including two Holstein heifers, one Jersey calf, 100 chickens and a milk cow named Bessie due to give birth this fall.
For Dan, the biggest difference in co-owning a farm–versus helping out on his parents’ land–has been handling all the repairs. “I can’t call my dad when the baler breaks,” he says.
While Felice and Dan hope to join the growing movement of Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), in which customers purchase a share of produce directly from the farmer, they’re sticking with hay in their first growing season. Here, they head out on a foggy morning to monitor the fields.
“We’ve just had so much help – we’ve been truly blessed,” says Felice of getting the first season up and running at Sunny Valley. Her father (left), an electrician, even helped install new lights in the barn.
Another source of support and expertise for Felice has been her neighbors. In addition to the Weeds, Sunny Valley leases to three other farmers, including Paul Bucciaglia, who is raising these baby turkeys with the help of an incubator to keep them warm.
Also at Fort Hill Farm, certified organic vegetables and herbs, including this fresh basil, are grown for CSA customers. Buying direct from the farmer or farmers’ market is often the most environmentally friendly option, since the vegetables have a smaller carbon footprint.
Sunny Valley Preserve Manager Wayne Woodard works with Felice and the other farmers to promote local agriculture and adhere to best practices. Woodard also manages conservation activities for the preserve’s nearly 1,400 acres of natural land, such as creating new habitat for the at-risk New England Cottontail.
Summer in Sunny Valley
Hear from our young farmer Felice Martin on her first growing season at Sunny Valley Preserve, including barn updates, crop harvesting . . . and a wedding!