Work Song Farm is a certified organic farm with a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program and summer farmstand offering freshly picked vegetables each Saturday at the Contoocook summer farmers market and Wednesdays at the Hopkinton Farmers Market. For Abby and Dan, the best part of farming is the connection they have with their customers who come each week to pick up their CSA shares at the farmstand or visit the farmers market.
By Helen Brody (April 26, 2014)
With two-month old daughter Magdalena sleeping in her arms, Abby explained that she and her husband Dan had spent eight years working to make Work Song Farm a reality. Abby grew up in Tilton, New Hampshire in a family that loves gardening and birding. She considered a career in education, but working outdoors proved to be more satisfying. Dan studied writing in college, but later realized that farming was what he really wanted to do. Almost as soon as they met, Abby and Dan were planning their farming life together.
Finding affordable farmland to make their dream of a farm of their own come true was their biggest challenge. After exploring possibilities in Maine and Vermont, in 2010 they discovered a parcel of land that long-time farmers Donna and Bob Kimball had placed in a conservation easement. With their own savings and assistance from both of their families, Abby and Dan purchased the sixty-two acres. Twenty percent of the land is arable, with the rest of the acreage either woodland or swampy. They started their CSA the following spring, and, in 2012, became certified organic. When asked why they chose to become organic farmers, both Dan and Abby spoke of the critical need to keep the land healthy and their desire to “sustainably grow healthy and delicious food for our neighbors.”
As of the 2014 season, four acres of Work Song Farm was in production with a high tunnel, partially financed by the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS). The tunnel allows the Kilrains to provide a large variety of greens from the tunnel at the Contoocook Farmers Market each Saturday through the winter months. Nearby is a low tunnel which was less expensive, relatively easy to construct, and easy to move. The low tunnel houses cold-resistant crops like spinach. Both structures offer an early start and protection for summer crops. Ideally, Abby and Dan would like to have five to nine acres in production with produce available year round.
Their farm is still young and the work, shared by the couple and their families, is constant. Among their biggest challenges is affording a few extra hands to help during the summer season and the cost of start-up infrastructure and equipment. An equipment cooperative, enabling farmers to share the cost and use of major tools – including a trailer to transport them – would be helpful. Currently, the Kilrains informally share tools with a few nearby farmers.
Work Song Farm has a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, but also operates a summer farmstand and sells freshly picked vegetables each Saturday at the Contoocook summer farmer’s market and Wednesdays at the Hopkinton Farmers Market. For Abby and Dan, the best part of farming is the connection they have with their customers who come each week to pick up their CSA shares at the farmstand or visit the farmers market. Expanding both their production and strengthening this special connection with their community is most important to them.
Reflecting on time spent on farms in upstate New York, Maine and Vermont, Dan said that surrounding states have had a jumpstart on reinventing the farm/community connection, but thanks to Work Song Farm and efforts like it, New Hampshire is catching up fast.
Work Song Farm
Abby and Dan Kilrain
124 Beech Hill Rd.
Hopkinton, NH 03229 (farm)
Phone: 603-219-0297 (farm & home)
Retail: (direct to customer sales) Farmstand Contoocook Farmers Market (summer and winter) Hopkinton Farmers Market (Wednesdays, 4-7, May-October)
Article by Janet Ward, Contoocook, NH