Building a Sustainable Future at Winter Street Farm
For Abby Clarke and her partner Jonathan Hayden, owners of Winter Street Farm in New Hampshire, building lasting systems has always been at the forefront of their farming ethos.
“We decided to settle in the Northeast because organizations such as the American Farmland Trust provide a supportive community for starting farmers,” said Abby Clarke. “I feel confident that as long as I can manage a profitable business model, we will have the support of local organizations to help us thrive. I took leaps that I would not have taken otherwise because I received these funds and was able to make a system that improved my quality of life, along with the stability of our local food systems.”
Abby and Jonathan have a combined 13 years of farming experience, working with small- and large-scale farms across New England. They settled on their property in 2019, choosing an area without an active organic community-supported agriculture (CSA) option. They are committed to a combination of regenerative agriculture practices while maintaining a CSA model that is affordable and approachable for their community.
Through AFT’s New England Farmer Microgrants Program award, Abby and Jonathan were able to purchase a flail mower, a tractor implement that is essential to expanding their no-till practices. This new, key piece of equipment allowed them to reach new goals in production and decreased the labor-intensive nature of no-till operations.
“The flail mower we needed would have been too expensive for us to invest in our first year (or second or third…) but was pivotal to our goals,” said Abby, who previously worked on Simple Gifts Farm, a leader in the soil health movement in New England. “We created 3/4 acres of permanent, no-till beds that were manageable with two people and some volunteers. The flail-type mower was used to terminate cover crops/production crop to utilize the crop as a mulch, and immediately put the bed back into production, effectively creating a more mechanized, less labor-intense no-till system.”
The New England Farmer Microgrants Program, launched by American Farmland Trust in 2020, provides farmers with cash grants to expand their farm production, address access to land, and create farm succession plans.
Abby and Jonathan have started small, with an acre of active production, but are building a no-till system that they hope to expand to year-round production.
Learn more at https://www.winterstreetfarm.com