Chestnut Farms: Family Farm Powered by Community
Chestnut Farms is a family livestock farm that is the result of a dream, the passion of the owners and the support of our community. Kim and Rich are native New Englanders who love cows, pigs, goats and even chickens and turkeys! They strongly believe that traditional farming methods, including pasture based grazing, lots of fresh air and sunshine are best suited to raising healthy, happy livestock. They are also acutely aware of the strength in a herd and are blessed with a wonderful community.
For most of their lives, both Kim and Rich dreamed of being farmers but neither was fortunate enough to inherit a family farm. In 1997, Kim and her two daughters purchased an old dairy farm that had fallen on difficult times. She and Rich met and married shortly thereafter and together, with their children, worked to reclaim the land and build their foundation herds of livestock. Tires and metal were hauled out by the ton; rocks were picked from the fields and pastures were seeded. Cattle were bought and bred, pigs and goats and chickens all arrived. By 2004 Chestnut Farms was extreme family homesteading at its finest!
In 2006, Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer and thought if not now, when? It was clearly time to leave education and follow the dream. With wonderful business planning support from the State of MA, Department of Food and Agriculture (THANK YOU Ray and Craig!) Rich and Kim worked diligently to create a strong business plan. It quickly became clear that their passion for animals was going to be a driving force behind the farm. Connecting customers to the process of birthing, raising and harvesting animals was a strong second. CAFO (Contained Area Feedlot Operations) are allowed to exist primarily because people don’t know the truth about how the animals are treated. Kim’s background in teaching and learning made her acutely aware of the power of education. Thus, Chestnut Farms; Connecting Communities to Agriculture was born.
Community is critical to the success of any venture, but so very, very true in farming.
Chestnut Farms is blessed to be located in Hardwick, MA in the center of the state of MA. There are 9500 acres of active farms just in town and a plethora of other farmers including goat herdsman, shepherds, dairy operations, beef, buffalo and even reindeer farms in our area. This concentration of agricultural enterprises offers both support and service along with wisdom and experience.
They also partner with farms in bringing our meat to our shareholders including Waltham Fields Community Farm; Stearns Farm; and Heirloom Harvest. Building relationships and supporting each other is critical to our mission. When our colleagues have happy, healthy, vibrant farms we are all better off. Once a field is harrowed and houses are planted; it is never harrowed again. We want to see fields harrowed and planted in perpetuity in MA. We are committed to the success of the overall farming community in Ma and blessed to be a part of it.
Chestnut Farms is a birth to plate operation. We want to know our livestock has an easy entry into the world, a wonderful lifetime and a humane exit. To this end, it is imperative that we know and work closely with our slaughterhouse (Harvest Homes). We have worked hard to develop strong and trusting relationships with our partners in harvest over the years and have full confidence that they are among the best in the US.
Chestnut Farms is first and foremost a CSA farm. Our animals are born, raised and harvested with our CSA shareholders as our primary focus. We work hard to provide a wonderful assortment of humanely raised, hormone and chemical free meat to our community. Our shareholders form the backbone of our success. Without the regular connection and support, we would not be able to farm – because of our amazing CSA members, we are able to raise our animals in the best way possible. We are so humbled by the opportunity to connect with our members, to watch courtships and marriages happen, to celebrate the births and mourn the passing of our shareholders. When we first proposed the mission of Connecting Communities to Agriculture we saw it as an opportunity to educate our shareholders; we didn’t anticipate how much our shareholders would educate us, connect with us, support us and teach us!