chickens in the garden

Camps Road Farm, Then and Now

Horray! It’s the first blog post for the Camps Road Farm website. We have been active on Facebook for some time, but we wanted to start branching out with how we share our story. This blog post is to give you a little bit of our back story and to share some of our plans moving forward.

Here on Camps Road Farm we are restoring an old dairy farm and over the years we will be building it into a whole diet farm. There are a lot of moving parts and in order to grow ourselves sustainably and without any sacrifice to quality in any of the areas we wish to develop, we are implementing them slowly through the years.

I’m the Farm Manager, “Farmer John”, and it will be primarily be me who will be putting together the updates on the blog and through our e-mail newsletter. I like to tell stories with a lot of visuals, and thus you will see a lot of photos when I post to the blog.

Camps Road Farm Then

cows on pasture
“Back in the day” Camps Road Farm was called Fools Day Farm. Chad and Gene Hoyanski farmed dairy cattle with their son Aaron. In time they sought different pastures in Maine and the farm was bought by the current owner David Birnbaum.
wild flowers and pasture
On a warm summer day David came to visit the farm and fell in love with the gentle breezes, beautiful wild flowers, and peaceful pond across the street from the farm house. The farm wasn’t actively “farmed” for a few years and was loaded with potential.
farm pond
Across the street from the entrance to the farm is a 5 acre pond.

Camps Road Farm Now

baby chicks
One of the first additions to the farm was egg-laying chickens. Of course they didn’t start by laying, they started as tiny little balls of fluff that peep, scurry about, and do a lot of sleeping.
chickens in the garden
As the chicks started to grow we moved them around the farm, added, more chicks, and started to incorporate other elements into the farm. In this picture we moved one of our coops into one of our garden areas in the fall to have them help us with fertilization for the spring. We will be turning over a lot of new ground for veggies in the years to come and the natural fertilizer is a big help. Have no fear, the chickens are long gone and everything is broken down before we eat anything out of those fields.
pastured eggs
The chickens have been making use of the pastures the cattle left to them. Busy converting grass into eggs the birds spend their days enjoying some sunshine, eating bugs, and mowing our lawn. We have a number of heritage breed chickens which accounts for the different egg colors. Nutritionally they are all the same, but the different breeds lay different color eggs.
foodcyclist joins camps road farm
I joined the farm last year and eventually took over as the farm’s manager. With me came my farm, FoodCyclist Farm where I raised chickens on pasture for meat instead of eggs. Together David and I agreed that combining the two farms into one was the best move since I was happy here. Camps Road Farm will proudly be offering pastured chickens for the 2014 season marketed through our CSA and Farmers’ Market (Saturdays in New Milford, CT 9-12).
chicken tractors
Here are the chicken tractors moving through our hop yard. It worked out really well that our hops vines were being attacked by Japanese Beetles when I first moved chickens in there. The chickens cleared the problem right up!
chicken tractors
The chicken tractors are my original design. They are moved once every day so the birds always have fresh grass and bugs, and so their manure does not build up. The chicken tractors also keep the birds safe from the many predators we have in the area.
camps road farm
This view of the farm was taken from a 40 foot high “cherry picker” as we we were working on the trellis for the hop yard. We’re coming into Spring around here and the farm is really coming to life. I am excited for the year and really looking forward to the markets starting.

The 2014 Camps Road Farm Plan:

For 2014 we will be concentrating on pastured chickens for both meat and eggs. There are a number of things we are gearing up for, but setting up the different areas of the farm is going to take time.

Chicken and eggs will be available at the New Milford Farmers’ Market¬†on Saturdays starting May 10th. We will have eggs available at the market starting at the beginning of the market with broiler chickens available starting in June. We will also be selling items through our Good Eggs page into New York City and Brooklyn, NY.

Later in the year we will have sheep sausage as well from some our of sheep that are acting as lawn mowers and pruners in the hop yard.

If you are interested in our local CSAs you can find more info on our Egg CSA page and Chicken CSA page.

Future Areas of the Farm

Plans are always subject to change. We are working with the land to produce what best suits the farm. We are also paying close attention to what our customers ask for and we will adjust our plans accordingly as time goes on. I always love to write the steps down as we go so that we are able to go back and reflect later.

Camps Road Farm will develop into a full diet farm specializing in protein. This year we will have chicken and eggs, and toward the end of the year we will have some sheep sausage available. In the future we plan on adding turkeys, pigs, ducks, and perhaps some goats.

In the future we plan to offer diversified vegetables. With so much new ground to break in this year we are delaying the vegetable production so that we can add soil amendments like our home-made compost (the chickens help) to get the soils into the right balance for growing. I wish it was as easy as just planting some seeds in the ground! All good things in time.

Camps Road Farm also works very closely with two other budding businesses. Kent Falls Brewing Company should break ground on an on-farm brewery this Spring with first batches possibly coming out this fall (you never know with new construction, our fingers are crossed!). To supply the brewery with brewing ingredients we have a 1.4 acre hop yard. We just spent time trellising the wires 18 feet in the air that the hop vines get trellised to. We will also be growing botanicals and a few other specialty ingredients for the brewery.

Neversink Spirits is our distillery located in Porchester, NY. To supply ingredients for the Distillers to create their signature apple brandy we have a 1.4 acre apple orchard on the farm as well. Along with the hops we will be growing botanicals for the spirits as well.

Both the hop yard and apple orchard were started in 2013 and will need a few years to reach peak production.

Thank You

We are making strides to work with the land, work with our local community, and work with what our customers want to see produced. Our motto is “Whole System Sustainability” and that works on so many levels. There are certainly a lot of moving parts to put into place.

Thank you for taking the time to read our first blog post, thank you for your support of the farm, and thank you in advance for being part of what is shaping up to be a great growing season!