This is Thistlebloom Farm in Amherst, Massachusetts. It was built in 1860 and became mine in June, 2019.
My name is Catherine. I have loved this place since the moment I set eyes on it when my mom was house hunting in New England, so I asked her if we could buy it.
She said no.
She was right, of course, but it reached right in and grabbed my heart and soul back when other kids were focusing on their social lives. I spent my time in garden shops looking for plants and tools, and learned how to grow orchids and grapes — but that’s another post.
Six days after buying Thistlebloom, I had my first crop harvested. I can only take credit for calling the people with the equipment and workers to come and hay the place. Technically, I own a farm, but this just means that I bought myself a giant responsibility. You don’t become a farmer simply by buying a farm. Earning that title will take the rest of my life.
Of Thistlebloom’s 77.25 acres of land, Massachusetts protects 75 under MDAR’s Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR). This requires me to to farm it and protect it from development. There is also a significant brook running through it, which needs management honoring both the riparian system and the APR program requirements. Otters, herons and greater egrets call it home — or at least a good vacation spot.
Thistlebloom has been home to dairy cows, heritage pigs, chickens, goats, sheep and fjord ponies. Nobody’s used synthetic pesticides or herbicides on it in at least a decade, so it’s perfect for organic, biodynamic, carbon-sequestering farming. But first, the farm needs help, and it won’t be cheap or easy. It’s been underused for a long time and the buildings are in rough shape.
This blog will chronicle its journey and eventually tell you how you can buy its produce. I’ll even post job opportunities here when I can! In the meantime, there will be thoughts and pictures, most of them taken by my husband. And when the buildings no longer drip with lead and we have made the pastures safe, there will be animals. Also fruit and hay.