Hello CSA members:
I have an exciting announcement today - one that doesn't fit into the usual weekly email format. Sue and I have purchased a second farmstead, the so-called Perkins Farm on Route 5, just down the road from Sunrise. It's the long field right across from the new town ballfields with the old sugarhouse along the treeline, only half a mile from the current farm.
Why on earth did we do this, you might ask? A bunch of reasons. The first is that we've always feared this land would be broken up for house lots some day, compromising one of the most beautiful views in town. Our goal will be to conserve the property with funding from the State of Vermont, insuring public access and agriculture on the site forever. Among other things, we hope to put in a trail that will connect the new town ballfields with the town forest on top of the hill.
A second reason is that we're bursting at the seems on the home farm right now. The operation is presently too big for me to manage all by myself but too small to pay anyone else to join me year 'round. With the new site providing more income, I'm planning to bring Sayer and Jennica in as partners. Generally speaking, we hope to do more of what we're doing well already: on-farm CSA, broiler chickens, maple syrup, fall lamb. We also want to explore winter growing of greens and other veggies, using hoophouses that we'll put up on the new site.
A third reason is that the new farm helps ensure that Sunrise will thrive beyond my participation, though that's still (hopefully!) decades away. The business right now is so integrated into Sue's and my living space that it wouldn't be possible for Sunrise to continue without me. With the new site serving as the base of operations, and with multiple partners running the show, the farm can thrive far into the future even while continuing to use the great soil that we've cultivated on the home farm.
What will all this mean in the short term? Very little, in the sense that Sunrise will continue to operate much as it does now for the next few years. The CSA pickup will remain at Sunrise for another year or two while we slowly bring the new farm up to speed. We'll probably move the sheep and chickens down there next spring to start fertilizing the fields, and work on the forest management, public access, and maple sugaring angles first. We'll try to get a greenhouse or two installed this fall/winter on the new site to start developing the winter markets. (This may also enable us to open the CSA earlier in the spring as well - fingers crossed!) Then ultimately we'll move the pickup area and retail space once we've been able to build the needed infrastructure down there. But that's a ways down the road.
I hope to create a short survey to send around later this fall asking for your advice on how we can best utilize this new opportunity, given that each of you know Sunrise as well as anyone. What do you hope we can add to the Sunrise experience? What do you hope we never lose?
It's going to be a fun project, though a touch bittersweet. I've loved having my life and work all in one place, and I know all of you have loved the chance to visit the farm and enjoy the beauty of the land. We'll figure out ways to keep that going and make sure that the new site enhances the Sunrise experience while keeping the home farm available for when you want to visit. As you can see from the photograph above, the new farmstead is a pretty sweet spot as well!