Biodynamic farm named Cooperator of the Year

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WESTMORELAND, N.H. — Frank Hunter and Kim Peavey live their lives in a way that Rudolf Steiner would approve. Steiner was the founder of both Waldorf schools and Biodynamic farming. Both his methodology for schooling and farming involve looking at activities and life holistically.

It was the desire for wholeness that drove Peavey and Hunter to the tiny town of Westmoreland 15 years ago. Neither of them had been to New Hampshire before.

"We came and we fell in love with it," Peavey said. "We hiked up Mount Monadnock and then we moved in six months later."

On Oct. 23, the Cheshire County Conservation District announced that Hillside Spring Farm, Peavey and Hunter's farm, is this year's Cooperator of the Year.

Hunter and Peavey have worked closely with the CCCD. They've built an irrigation system, extended their deer fence, pollinated the habitat, and built greenhouses among other projects.

Before they found their home in Westmoreland the couple had a small farm in Ithaca, N.Y., and before that the two apprenticed on Kimberton Farm, in Pennsylvania, where they met and fell in love.

Westmoreland was a good fit for multiple reasons. The landscape, the size of Westmoreland's community and the location — halfway between Brattleboro and Keene — appealed to the couple. They liked the local Waldorf school, where they enrolled their daughter Gwen Peavey-Hunter, and they found a property perfect for their dream biodynamic farm.

Biodynamic farming was introduced to Hunter and Peavey while they worked on Kimberton Farm.

"It really tries to see the farm as a whole," Peavey said.

"Kind of like the Gaia Theory," which is when you see the earth as a living being, Hunter added.

"Part of biodynamics is to wake up the humanness in the agriculture, in the land," he said.

Biodynamic farming is different than other farming for a variety of reasons.

"First of all it's organic," Peavey said. A regular organic farmer can separate out their crops and grow some crops organic and others non-organic, Hunter said. Peavey and Hunter said all of their crops are organic. Their farm also works on a cycle. The couple has draft horses, whose manure works as compost, and who pasture on their fields. There is also a pond for the irrigation system.

Now, their CSA has roughly 80 members and the couple spends their time tending to the farm. When not farming, Peavey writes, though, she said, the act is less for income and more for her, "spirit." Hunter likes to experiment in the greenhouse. He tends to the farm's tomatoes.

Owning the farm has brought the family closer to the community; the property was already established as a farm before Peavey and Hunter came on to the scene.

"A lot of people remember coming here as kids and picking apples," Peavey said. "It's a nice connection."

CSA customers roam on to the farm on a weekly and biweekly basis. They're invited to pick some of their own crops, such as flowers.

Phoebe Reynolds, who's been a customer for years, said she sometimes thinks the food is too much for her, but she keeps coming back every year. A medicinal psychic once told her she could tell that Reynolds ate healthy food.

"They have really good food," she said, "and I really like the farmers."

More information about Hillsidesprings farm can be found at hillsidespringsfarm.com.

Harmony Birch can be reached at hbirch@reformer.com, at @Birchharmony on Twitter and 802-254-2311, Ext. 153.


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