Gleaning, the practice of preserving that which might otherwise go to waste, is central to the Farm’s practice of low-impact agriculture. The village, known as Huntington Center, consists as a cluster of homes, the public elementary school, the town offices, and the historic Town Hall. This settlement straddles the Main Road, which runs along the narrow Huntington River valley. While the steeper slopes have largely returned to forest over the past century, the river plain remains mostly open grass meadow. These meadows weave through the village, lending a rural aesthetic to this picturesque valley. The Farm’s sheep and cows, in their grazing rotation, move around the village, from field to field.
The Farm fields are composed of well-drained grasslands along both sides of Brush Brook, the swift-flowing rocky stream that descends from the high mountain ridge. This generous grassland feeds a small herd of Jersey-Dexter cows and a flock of Border Leicester sheep. Careful grazing has improved and deepened the soils. A growing portion of the hay required to feed the animals through the winter is mowed by hand using traditional scythes. A crew of passionate hand-mowers gathers in the fields each June to revive this traditional craft and renew the conversation that it makes possible between people and place.
Many individual landowners have offered their fields to the Farm as a Gift, creating a sort of village Commons. Most of this grassland was previously fallow, waiting to be gleaned by these hard-working sheep and cows. The grass itself grows from the combined Gifts of fertile soil, abundant rainfall, and warm sunshine.
The meat, reverently butchered during the fall and winter, is the incarnation of the many Gifts offered freely by this place. To supplement the Farm’s beef and lamb and modest vegetable gardens, several local farms generously offer us the opportunity to harvest, or glean, produce that would otherwise go to waste.