Sweet Land Farm would not exist were it not for a bend in the Sandy River. The farm consists of alluvial soils in the Sandy River floodplain and on terraces above the floodplain, deposited over millennia. These are very productive and easy to work soils. The farm has a southern exposure and is sheltered from the north by pine and mixed hardwood forests, including Hickory!
The confluence of the Sandy and Kennebec Rivers has been the site of agricultural activity for at least 5000 years, as this area was home to the Abenaki people, who had a substantial amount of land in corn, beans, and squash. In 1724, the village was attacked in a night raid by Colonial British troops, which ultimately dispersed the surviving village population throughout the local region and into Quebec. Later in 1772, the first European settler arrived from Massachusetts and selected a site on the Sandy (about a mile downriver from my place) and started a farm, and was joined by others soon there after.
Sweet Land Farm consists of the river lot sections of three original surveyed land grant parcels, which typically were somewhat narrow strips running inland from the river, affording each lot its portion of good cropland, hay land, pasture, and woodland. In the early twentieth century, these "intervale" lots and others along the Sandy were bought by the owner of the "corn shop," or canning factory in town, to secure a consistent supply of corn and other vegetables for its operation. After the corn shop closed in 1964, these prized intervale fields were most often leased to dairy farmers for the production of silage corn. In the 1970's, a local dairy farmer grew "grain corn" on what was to become my farm, and built a 40'x100' barn in which to store it. When the commodity prices for corn dropped in the mid 1980's, grain corn operations on this scale became unviable. A few years later, the farm was bought by a sod farmer from Rhode Island, who invested an immense effort in order to produce sod for the Southern New England market. Due to a combination of unfortunate circumstances, that operation did not succeed, and the farm was put up for sale. I bought the farm in 1997, so that I could increase organic vegetable production and transition to the wholesale level. Since then, I have grown a variety of crops for wholesale and retail, and have hosted interns as well as made a two year commitment with a couple who were in MOFGA's Journeyperson Program. Currently I lease 5 acres to a market farm family in Lincoln County, who successfully manage to coordinate their production here, along with their croplands and markets in the Midcoast Region, over an hour's drive away. The soil makes it worth it.
When I am showing the farm to a prospective farmer or to someone who is simply interested in agriculture, I absently pick up a 4 foot long fiberglass electric fencepost stake, as if to use it as a pointer or a walking stick. When we get to a piece of cultivated ground I will set it in the ground and continue to push on it with my flattened palm, until it disappears from view. No need to say another word.
Up for potential shared use:
The house is a large ranch, built circa 1980. I have put a lot of work into it, and the interior is very nice, yet exterior could use some aesthetic improvements. Systems all function well. It has a 34'x54' cellar which is dry. During the winter on a sunny day, the sun will keep the house warm until the sun gets low. I have a wood cookstove for heat and cooking, as well as a gas stove. We have a Rinnai propane heater as main source of heat if no one is around. There is an 8'x24' cedar deck on the south side, with raised beds below, making for a pleasant approach.