Blog

Explore the work we are doing, told through the stories of the people who make up the Wolfe's Neck community.
Training Future Food Systems Leaders in 2021
As the growing season winds down at Wolfe's Neck Center, we asked the apprentices in our Fruit and Vegetable Production Farmer Training Program to reflect on their experiences here. This six month, on-farm training program covers all aspects of organic fruit and vegetable crop production with a focus on regenerative agriculture techniques and includes classroom time and site visits to other farms. Educating and inspiring the next generation of leaders to shape our local and global food system is at the heart of our mission, and this year's crew is leaving here with renewed commitment, hands on experience and a passion for agriculture.
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Thanksgiving
The staff at Wolfe’s Neck Center share a profound and meaningful commitment to our work, each other, and our community. On this day of Thanksgiving, we wanted to share with you our gratitude for being a part of this amazing place; looking at what brought us here and why being a member of the team is important to us.  
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OpenTEAM Secretariat Meets at Wolfe’s Neck Center
Over these past two weeks, COP26, or the Conference of the Parties, held its 26th annual meeting in Glasgow, Scotland. Also known as the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26 is where nations, indigenous peoples, organizations, and individuals meet to negotiate and discuss how to best mitigate climate change. Conversations such as these are critical to mitigating the ongoing climate crisis. As world leaders prepared to meet in Glasgow, the OpenTEAM Secretariat convened at Wolfe’s Neck Center to reflect on current collaborative approaches, discuss potential opportunities for increased training and certification in soil health tools, and begin to develop a strategy for scaling.
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What Does Seaweed and Cows have in common?
Earlier this year, our cows here at Wolfe’s Neck Center were part of a research initiative to fight climate change. Half of our milking herd were given a local seaweed variety in their diet to measure the impacts of that local seaweed on the amount of methane the cow produces. WNC and project partners will be continuing this work over the next 5 years!
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FitBits for Cows: Our New SenseHub Dairy Activity Monitors
Our cows got some new bling! The SenseHub Dairy activity monitors give our dairy team real-time updates and measurements, helping them to track both cow and herd health as closely as possible. The dairy team uses the monitors to record the herd’s daily movements across Wolfe’s Neck’s pastures, track their dairy production, notify best breeding time for each cow, monitor their digestion, and observe overall health measurements like respiration. 
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How We Feed Our Cows Over Winter
As we all enjoyed the warmer weather back in May, our Dairy team was already looking towards the winter months as they prepared bales of hay that would feed our cows. As the weather gets colder, we move our cows into the dairy barn to keep them warm and cozy. But, with less ample opportunities to graze, we feed our herd with the hay we bale throughout the winter season.
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Celebrating OpenTEAM’s Second Anniversary
This October, we are celebrating OpenTEAM’s second anniversary! Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management was founded in 2019, by Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, Stonyfield, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s LandPKS. Based here at the farm, OpenTEAM is a farmer-driven, collaborative community of farmers, ranchers, scientists, researchers, technologists, farm service providers, and food companies who are co-creating an interoperable suite of tools that provide farmers around the world with the best possible knowledge to improve soil health. 
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Meet Our New Dairy Grazing Apprentice
Originally from the great state of Connecticut, I've lived on two continents, traveled in four; but, I keep coming back to Maine and its irreplaceable mountains, forests, and seacoasts. A graduate of the University of Southern Maine, I've taught many subjects and both at home and abroad. This time, it's my turn to be taught again.
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New England Dairy Farmers Face Uncertainty
Wolfe’s Neck Center was disappointed to learn of Danone North America’s decision to end the contracts of 89 organic milk producers in New England, including 14 family farms in Maine. Danone, which operates the Horizon Organic brand, recently decided to move away from New England as part of a cost-cutting consolidation. This blow will have devasting effects on Maine’s organic dairy sector, as well as other economic implications across the region. It is disheartening to think of the potential consequences on these farms’ soils, which have been managed for biodiversity and carbon health.  
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A Ride to the Past
On Saturday, September 18, 2021 I hopped aboard the history wagon ride offered through Wolfe’s Neck Center’s community & visitor programs, hoping to learn more about the history of this land and its people. In my communications role on Wolfe’s Neck Center’s team, it is my responsibility to help tell the stories of the current-day farm, but of course, so much of the present has deep ties to our past. 
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​​By Lia Bensley, Wolfe’s Neck Center’s Marketing & Communications Manager 


On Saturday, September 18, 2021 I hopped aboard the history wagon ride offered through Wolfe’s Neck Center’s community & visitor programs, hoping to learn more about the history of this land and its people. In my communications role on Wolfe’s Neck Center’s team, it is my responsibility to help tell the stories of the current-day farm, but of course, so much of the present has deep ties to our past. 

The two-hour tour was led by the dynamic duo of Jim DeGrandpre and Kathy Smith. Jim is our Director of Visitor Services and Kathy is an acclaimed local historian, both with special ties to this place and area. Jim arrived at Wolfe’s Neck Center over five decades ago. In October 1968, Mr. and Mrs. L.M.C. Smith invited Jim’s father, Charlie DeGrandpre, to join them in Maine to develop their visionary organic beef farm, with a focus toward educating and demonstrating organic principles. Jim’s family even lived in the Little River Farmhouse, which now houses our admin offices and serves as the hub for educational programs. Kathy is married to Sam Smith, one of Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s children and long-standing board member. An impactful historian, neighbor, and steward of Wolfe’s Neck, Kathy’s institutional knowledge is invaluable. Together this pair guided our group of 20 through centuries of historical knowledge and present-day facts.

We first gathered at the Little River Farmhouse’s tent where each attendee was handed a binder full of maps, genealogy charts, old letters, and photographs. Then we climbed aboard the tractor where Jim served as chauffeur and Kathy as tour guide. Every few minutes, Jim stopped the tractor so he and Kathy could share an anecdote, historical or cultural relevances, and answer questions. Our stops included: 

  • The Banter House: Originally constructed in the 1840s, Banter now houses our Organic Dairy Farmer Training Program apprentices.
  • Wolfe’s Neck State Park: The park contains varied ecosystems, including climax white pine and hemlock forests, a salt marsh estuary, and the rocky shorelines on Casco Bays and the Harraseeket River.
  • The Mallet Barn: Built by E.B. Mallet in 1890, the Mallet Barn was used to store hay before shipping it to Boston, Philadelphia, and NYC via sailing vessels. Currently, the Mallet Barn is the site of many of the Center’s events, including Farm to Table dinners and this week’s Beers in the Barn fundraiser.
  • The Pote Barn & House: Ship captain Greenfield Pote built the house around 1760 in Falmouth, approximately 20 miles south of the farm. He moved the house to Freeport in 1787. The home is one of the oldest in Freeport and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The barn currently houses our young heifers. 
  • Wolf Neck Road: Just past the Mallet Barn, our group walked to a clearing in the trees to view the remains of the Casco Castle in south Freeport. Built in 1903, this grand resort hotel offered an amusement park, small zoo, baseball park, and formal gardens. It burned down in 1914 but the tower that remains has become a symbol of the town of Freeport and a beacon for boats heading into the harbor. 
  • The Wedding Field: The last stop on our tour was the Wedding Field, an expansive plot which looks out to Googins Island and Casco Bay. This site used to host weddings. 

The tour also touched upon the regenerative agriculture practices that have been employed on this land for decades. The Smiths were committed to the future of Maine farming, to the new idea of organic agriculture, to conservation and the preservation of open space, to public access to the sea, and to the preservation of historic buildings and sites. 

Kathy and Jim also spoke to the fact that Wolfe’s Neck Center operates on the historic lands of the Abenaki people – members of the Wabanaki Confederation of Native people in Maine. We acknowledge and honor the tribes who comprise the Wabanaki Confederacy – the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Abenaki, and Mi’kmaq peoples – who have stewarded these lands for centuries. We respect the traditional values of these Tribes and affirm their inherent sovereignty in this territory. The Wabanaki are the first peoples of northern New England, and have lived on this land for over 16,000 years. Wabanaki means people of the dawn, and Maine is the first place in the United States where the sunrise touches the Atlantic Coast.

The tour was an incredible tribute to the people who worked these lands for hundreds of years. As Wolfe’s Neck Center looks to farming and food for the future of our planet, it is important to remember our past and the role early stewards of this land played. While this was the last history hay wagon ride of the season, we hope you’ll join us next spring & summer as we continue to share the historical relevance of this special place.

For more photos of the event, please click here.

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