The new barn, the start of the CSA, and school kids…

The week has been, and continues to be, a very busy one for all of us at the farm.  Major tomato and potato plantings, a bus load of 5th grade school children from NYC, and the raising of the new barn.  The story of the new barn is one which like many things revolving around Waldingfield has a lot to do with history, family, and luck.  And so, come to think of it, does the connection between the Allen Stevenson School annual field trip.  All that plus the start of the 24th year of our CSA program!  

We will start with the barn and some history.  Back in 1920-21 our great-grandfather, grandfather and his brother (Mr C.B. Smith and his sons, Carlton and Alexander) planted the white and red pine forrest which sits along the western side of our property along East Street.  In what was once pastured hill side they planted several thousand trees with the idea of it being harvested in the future years and sold.   A simple, long term, farm plan to help bring in extra revenue to what was then a dairy farm.  

Fast forward to the 1970’s, the dairy having been long disbanded and Waaldingfield serving as a country home for our grandparents, we boys used to wander through these now mighty pines collecting cones and the needles which fell onto the forrest floor.  Then in late 1979 the white  and red pines were hit with a major blight and we lost more then half of the forrest.  Within a few years the once mighty trees were snapping like matchsticks and down below new hard woods emerged. 

However, seeing an opportunity to make good one the years earlier plan to do something with the remaining timber, Quincy (grandson) and John Horan (son in law to Carlton Smith, father of the boys, and current owner of the farm) devised a plan to build a new barn for the now thriving organic Waldingfield Farm.  The original barns – a woodshed from the 1770’s and the main barn from the 1830’s – we in need of some relief after years of use.  So a plan was devised to cut the timber, mill it locally, and then hire a true post and beam architect to erect and new barn.  And so it has been done.  Ninety years, three generations, and as luck would have it, the same alma mater as our grandfather was there to see it rise… sweet!

After much waiting for the milling to happen the logs began to come back as cut timber, the foundation was built (by Lenny Manz) and the date was set for May 31st to start building the structure.  There would be help from the farm crew, as well as a crane to come and lift the massive beams.  It was indeed a sight to behold!  On the 4th of June the Allen Stevenson School – both Patrick Horan and his grandfather Carlton Smith attended – came for their annual 5th grade field trip to the farm.  Who would have thought that roughly 90 years after Carton Smith had left Alleen Stevenson, and planted the trees, that there would be forty four school children from his alma mater there to watch it go up?  Indeed, a little luck there for sure.  The kids really enjoyed the afternoon planting potatoes but the crane lifting up the massive beams was what really held their attention. 

So, a barn was raised, spuds were planted, and now the beginning of the CSA program.  With well over one hundred families investing in the season, we look forward to the harvest to come.  It will be hard work but as our grandfather proved, there is glory in planting and harvesting, only this will take ninety days, not ninety years…