Thursday, May 6, 2010
Farmington, Maine: Sandy River Farm
Bussie York is a 72-year-old second generation dairyman in Farmington, Maine. On his 600 acres he milks Milking Shorthorns and Holsteins. He is ever-aware of markets and trends and went organic when he saw demand (and prices) rising. He writes for the local paper (on "the state of agriculture" as he puts it) and is part of a task force, created to maintain local control of agriculture as regulations get more and more strenuous.
A new shop across the street from the farm has just been built and on the lower level they are preparing to begin bottling their own milk, becoming only the second dairy in Maine bottling their own product. He also hopes to deliver the milk door to door, "like my father did...we're setting the clock back 80 years."
Interestingly, last year they tried out a corn maze...10 acres dedicated to tourism. They found it to be the most lucrative venture on the farm, despite the years of energy put into other products and services, such as the corn-burning stoves that they sell and the feed business that he runs. The farm's own products are organic, but many of the grains that are grown to sell to other farmers are conventional.
Bussie is looking ahead as he prepares to pass the business on to the third generation...one of his three daughters will be taking it over with her husband, though Bussie himself figures he'll be plenty healthy in the coming years. As he recovers from a recent surgery, he is still active. "I got one foot up on the tractor the other day...so I guess that's doing good."
A note about Farmington Maine- we encountered the most "no parking" (no pahking as we would joke amongst ourselves as we roamed the streets searching in vain for a place to stop) signs we have ever seen in our combined life experiences. We wondered what would happen if we even thought about pahking on those fahbidden pahking spots. Our favorite sign read "Parking Regulations: NO PARKING!"
Posted by Trav Williams at 3:44 PM