July 25, 2011

Open farms, food for thought

Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport and 100 others welcome visitors to learn about animals and crops.

By Emma Bouthillette ebouthillette@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

FREEPORT - Animals from the song "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" came to life Sunday for children visiting Wolfe's Neck Farm during the 22nd annual Open Farm Day.

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Jess Muise and her son Oliver, 2, say hello to a sheep during Open Farm Day at Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport on Sunday.

Photos by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer

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Eric Tadlock, director of education, gives wagon rides for visitors at Open Farm Day at Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport on Sunday. The Casco Bay coastline is among the sights to take in at the farm.

Additional Photos Below

Holding her 2-year-old son, Oliver, Jess Muise reached over a feeding trough to treat a sheep to a carrot.

"What does a sheep say?" she asked.

"Bah," Oliver replied, giggling.

Muise said she takes any chance she gets to bring her son outside and introduce him to new things. Inside the barn at Wolfe's Neck Farm, Oliver met sheep, goats and week-old chicks up close.

"We live in downtown Portland. We don't have this in our backyard," she said. "We're having a good time here."

Open Farm Day is organized by the Department of Agriculture as an opportunity for people to visit local farms. With the "buy local" trend increasing, it is also a way for people to see where their food is coming from and meet the farmers. Throughout the day, more than 100 farms across the state opened their barn doors, offering demonstrations and farm-raised products for sale, as well as animals and crops to observe.

At Wolfe's Neck Farm, Executive Director Tod Yankee greeted people and answered questions.

"People can come interact and learn about raising animals for food and how we do it responsibly," Yankee said.

He explained that all animals -- some 400 in the barn and more than 250 in the fields -- are raised naturally and treated humanely on Wolfe's Neck Farm. While Open Farm Day features a lot of farms that are closed to the public normally, Yankee said Wolfe's Neck Farm is often busy with visitors and is hosting summer programs for more than 600 children this year.

Leaning over a low, screen-covered box, Jacoby Halperin listened to the chirping of week-old chicks.

"Are those babies?" he asked his grandmother Pam Welner.

"I think they are," she said.

Welner said she was caring for her 2-year-old grandson from Cundy's Harbor and thought visiting the farm would be a fun excursion for them Sunday.

After checking out the chicks, Halperin walked up to Yankee, who was holding a grown white hen named Sunny Snowflake.

"Would you like to pet her?" Yankee asked.

Halperin reached out to ruffle the hen's feathers and smiled. He then waved goodbye as Yankee put the hen back in the coop.

Eric Tadlock, director of education on the farm, was taking visitors for wagon rides on part of the 626-acre property.

He said the rides gave people the opportunity to see cattle grazing, the community gardens, the farm's campground and some of Casco Bay's coastline.

"It's always important for people to be able to learn where their food comes from," Tadlock said. "It gives them a greater sense of respect for their food."

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

ebouthillette@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Gary Kerns of Topsham visits Wolfe's Neck Farm with his grandchildren Liam Jessie, 2, of Topsham and Paige Kerns, 4, of Bangor.

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Biscuit the goat rests in the barn while on display at Open Farm Day at Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport on Sunday.

 


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