Farm to Table

Earlier this fall I took a small group of our staff three miles down the road to Harrisville, NH where we visited an impressive small organic farm called Mayfair Farm. New Director of Dining Services, Sven Green and I have been talking over the last two months about our desire to partner with local farmers to create sustainable food practices at the school. We wanted to find a partner that was committed to sustainability, used humane farming practices, would include our student Work Gangs in their farm work, and who would talk to our students about their food and their health.

Sheep at Mayfair Farm.

Sheep at Mayfair Farm.

My wife Lisa, Sustainability Committee member Holly Macy, Dean of Students Simon McFall, Sven and I spent over an hour touring Mayfair Farm and meeting with farmers Sarah Heffron and Craig Thomson. We were immediately impressed with the work they had done on their farm. We observed the kitchens where they cook their Gluten Free products and make delicious sausage, saw their orchards and berry patches, and toured their sheep pastures and pig pens.

Craig and Sarah work with the Global animal Partnership to make sure they are following best practices for animal welfare by, among other things, providing significant pasture and interior spaces for their animals. They have received a level 4 ranking out of 5 levels--the only thing keeping them from the fifth level is their lack of on site processing of animals. We were struck by the large size of the pig pens they were using. Mayfair has also completed the non-GMO verification process.

After a short picnic of sausage, cider and biscotti we discussed ideas for future collaboration and we came away excited to start working together. We encourage our families to visit their farm store where you can buy their meat and baked goods. The store has an honor system so just grab what you need and leave a check or cash before you leave. You can find directions and more detail at Mayfair Farm's website.

This morning Craig came to Morning Meeting to talk about the farm and answer questions. Sven and his crew have already begun serving Mayfair products in the dining hall. Craig did an outstanding job of provoking discussion and making us laugh. In explaining how much he enjoys animals he indicated that he likes to have animals on the farm that are fun to hang out with. He is not a fan of meat birds and indicated that if you go on a European vacation you should always bring a pig--they will get you into just the right amount of trouble. 

Craig speaking in Morning Meeting.

Craig speaking in Morning Meeting.

I appreciated Craig's message explaining how he and Sarah have evolved as farmers. They are focusing more and more on what makes sense to farm in this region in New Hampshire while cutting out things that don't fit their land and their mission. Why force tomatoes, for instance, when their growing season here is so short? And why not focus on pigs and lamb that thrive in this environment? Their philosophy mirrors our school's efforts to simplify and focus. We want to provide the very best education WE can and go into depth wherever we can. It is great to introduce two more thoughtful educators into our community.

The students had so many questions they had to stay after to ask them all.

The students had so many questions they had to stay after to ask them all.