I think the sensible way to find a new place to live is to look for a community you like, and then look for a house, but my farm search was all backwards, since there were so few properties in New England that met my needs — big, cheap, and close enough to Boston. When I found my place in Sullivan, after 7 years of looking, I didn’t feel like I had the luxury of questioning what kind of town I’d be moving to; the farm that worked for me was in Sullivan, so Sullivan would be my place.
I’ve been delighted to discover that I live in a town with friendly, helpful neighbors, beautiful woods and ponds, and unbelievably rich resources for clueless new farmers. There’s the cast of characters I’ve been writing about — Bill Fosher, my grazing guru and general rescuer; Jenny Hughes, neighboring sheep farmer, friend, and advisor; and Bob Jones, master of all things mechanical and extremely patient teacher. But I’m also discovering all these other local folks who get paid to be helpful to people like me.
Yesterday I met with Carl Majewski, from the UNH Extension Office in Cheshire County. His title is Field Specialist for Food and Agriculture, but I think that translates into Soil and Plant Nerd, of the best possible sort. Carl walked my fields with me, helping me understand what was growing and why, and making suggestions about how to improve the pasture. He also gave me an impromptu (and extremely interesting!) lecture on the anatomy and biology of grasses.
I’m beginning to feel like I couldn’t have landed in a better place, even if I had been much more intentional about choosing a community to live in.