BRATTLEBORO -- Jay and Janet Bailey have been farming for many years so they have a strong appreciation for the passing of time.
Seasons come and seasons go and the Baileys have seen growth, death and birth again and again in the 35 years they have been managing Fair Winds Farm in Brattleboro.
From the very first day they moved out to the farm in October 1978 the couple has understood that they were only moving through; that they were tending the soil on the land-trust-owned property and would one day be turning it over to someone else.
The Baileys aren't done yet, but retirement, or at least semi-retirement, is looming in the near distance and they are getting ready to pass on their plow to the next generation.
The Baileys have reached an agreement with Wild Carrot Farm, a community supported agriculture business run by four young farmers who have been leasing land in Brookline and were looking for a new place to farm.
Ashlyn Bristle, Caitlin Burlett, Ben Crockett and Jesse Kayan have moved out to the 42-acre farm and are getting ready for a new season.
"This is the kind of opportunity we were allowed when we came here," Jay Bailey said, while he washed eggs and packed them for market. "We always knew the time would come when we would pass it on."
The Baileys, themselves, were once young farmers who were looking for land to tend.
They took over Fair Winds in 1978 when the former owner, Claude Tate, turned over the land to the Earth Bridge Land Trust.
The Baileys were given an 89-year lease with the understanding that they would own the buildings and machinery they invested in, but not the land.
The Baileys have three children, and at one point there was a possibility one of them might want to build a life at Fair Winds, but they have each found a home elsewhere.
"Nobody owns the land. The Native Americans understood that, and it's true," Jay says. "We want to pass this on, and hopefully in better shape than we found it."
Last year the Baileys began to put the word out and they interviewed a handful of different couples and groups who were interested. They say from their very first meeting with the Wild Carrot group it was clear that the partnership was going to work.
"We have been looking to bring in some young energy to make this work," Janet Bailey said. "We don't really use this land to its capacity."
Kayan, one of the four young farmers, said the group has been looking for a more secure land deal than the one they had in Brookline where they were operating on a season-to-season agreement. Last year they had about 75 customers who picked up produce at the CSA in Brookline.
Kayan also said he is looking forward to working closely with the Baileys; to learning about this land and to working nearby them on the farm they have called home for more than three decades.
"It has always been daunting for us to think about buying a farm," said Kayan. "We've got a million questions. It's a dream come true to be able to work with Jay and Janet and have them here as mentors."
The Baileys farm with draft horses, and host workshops at Fair Winds.
Kayan says he wants to continue using the horses to plow and work the fields.
With winter slowly fading, Kayan and his partners have been busy putting up greenhouses and fixing the equipment on the farm.
They have introduced their animals and are getting ready to put the first root crop and spinach seeds into the soft spring earth.
The land trust board has approved the partnership and the Baileys and the Wild Carrot crew are keeping things loose with the business.
Jay Bailey is going to train the young farmers to use his draft horses and the couple will continue running their egg business, which supplies about 120 dozen eggs per week to area markets.
Wild Carrot Farm will build up its business, expanding the farm's vegetable production and introducing raw milk and meat.
In the coming years the Wild Carrot farmers hope to purchase the larger farmhouse and the Baileys will move to a smaller house on the farm. But they have no plans to move very much farther.
"We're not slowing down. Social Security is still a few years away," Janet said. "We don't want to go anywhere. We want to grow old here."
For more information on Wild Carrot Farm go to www.wildcarrotfarm.net
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. You can follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.