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171 Belvedere Road, Gilsum, NH 03448
Ridge View Farm, Gilsum, NH
In 2010, Jenny Robinson purchased Ridge View Farm, a hilltop farm with a spectacular view of Mount Monadnock. It was previously one of the most productive farms in Gilsum, but had fallen into disrepair. Slowly but surely, Jenny is rebuilding the approximately 19 acre farm with a gorgeous array of colorful flowers, fresh herb and veggie starts, strawberries, heritage pigs, and rabbits.
Jenny’s great grandparents were farmers from England, so farming—and determination—is in her blood. She has a degree in landscape architecture which she utilized to create and run a garden center on an island off the coast of Maine for several years. Deciding it was time for a change, she headed to the mainland and New Hampshire.
Her biggest sellers are veggie starts. Customers appreciate that these are the same veggie starts she grows for herself, so she is familiar with the plants and can offer helpful advice. They are all non-GMO and open-pollinated when possible. She also supplies bedding plants to the City of Keene, and her products can be seen brightening areas within town. In addition to flowers and veggie starts, quarts of fresh, chemical free strawberries are available – picked by Jenny herself.
Hereford pigs, whose markings resemble Hereford cows, are a type of heritage pig raised at Ridge View. They are an American breed with a lineage that dates back to the 1800s. Herefords grow fast and contain more fat than other types of pigs. This breed is also known for being friendly and calm – as evidenced by one sow who casually strolled over to the fence with her three week old piglets for a quick hello. Ridge View’s piglets are available for purchase and are popular (they have a waiting list!). The adults earn their keep by helping with gardening. Jenny has three veggie gardens and rotates both crops and pigs to maintain soil health. The pigs help till and fertilize the soil while getting a change of scenery as they rotate through the various gardens.
Jenny’s newest additions include rabbits and garlic. The rabbits are sold as pets and as a meat source. Dogs with dietary issues can sometimes benefit from eating rabbit as it is a low allergenic protein, and ground rabbit meat can be purchased by customers who use it as an ingredient in their pet’s raw diet.
The first crop of garlic has made an appearance, and Jenny is excited. Garlic bloat nematode has been very damaging to many garlic crops, and Jenny is proud to say that her soil has been tested and is free of this destructive organism. To maintain a healthy crop, she only orders seeds from sources that have been tested for garlic bloat nematode as well. This fall, her plans include selling garlic seeds online.
Although Jenny’s greenhouse is open seasonally from May through the beginning of July, she is not one to stay idle. Her recent haying equipment purchase has added another task to a long list of things to do in addition to her work at a local veterinary office. While she has plans to expand her farm, she also wants to stay small enough to keep the personal connections with her customers and community. The smile on her face as she explains how a loyal customer brought pictures to show her how well his vegetables and flowers were growing based on her advice is just one example of how much she enjoys the relationships that have been built. There is no doubt that with Jenny’s sense of adventure, openness, humor, and love of farming and community, there are more stories to come.
Retail: Seasonal farmstand at the farm
Tammy Cloutier is an Environmental Studies PhD Candidate at Antioch University New England. She enjoys writing, loves purchasing locally produced foods, and is excited about the opportunity to be able to combine both for NHFN!
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