Dunn Farm joins lineup for Open Farm Day

On Sunday, July 23, more than 60 farms all across Maine will swing open their barn doors and welcome visitors to experience the 28th annual Open Farm Day, including several dairy farms. Visiting hours for most operations will be 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.

The Dunn family will host Open Farm Day at its dairy farm in Berwick for the first time ever this weekend. Daughters Ashlee, 30, and Marey, 23, were the ones to suggest the family participate. Their mother Denise said people in the area are becoming more familiar with goats and alpacas in terms of farming, but few know much if anything about  dairy farms. “They don’t realize what goes on every day here,” she said. Hopefully Sunday’s event will help to change that.

Courtesy photo from the Dunn family of cows grazing in their pasture.

Dairy farms were once common in this neck of the woods. If you drive along Blackberry Hill Road in Berwick, on which the Dunn Farm is located, you can see that it used to be all rolling pastures and fields that undoubtedly fed a number of dairy cows. Today, though, only the Dunn Farm is left. Back when Ashlee and Amey’s father Freddy graduated from high school in 1979, there were five farms on this road alone. At that time, the farm the Dunns are now located on belonged to Charlie Noyes and his famous Milking Shorthorns. The Dunns were at another nearby farm on Route 4, where Freddy’s mother still lives and dry cows (those on vacation before they have their calf) are pastured. The family also has a farm stand there where they sell sweet corn as well as tomatoes and cukes.

Corn and hayfields side by side on the Dunns’ Blackberry Hill Road property in Berwick.

“The milk truck driver used to take all us kids riding with him,” Freddy said. “We’d ride the whole route and wouldn’t hardly leave town.” You had to cross a wooden bridge to get to the Dunn Farm, but by the time the milk truck was full it was too heavy to cross the bridge so the Dunn kids would jump out and walk the half mile home.

The Dunns moved to the Noyes property on Blackberry Hill Road in 1987, and the family purchased the farm after Noyes’ death in 1999. Although most of the herd is the black and white Holsteins, there is still a red or roan colored shorthorn here and there that traces back to the Noyes herd. Freddy is unsure what generation dairy farmer he is. In 1967, his father moved up from Massachusetts, where HIS father had a dairy farm. “I guess ever since they came over from Ireland we’ve been dairy farming,” he said.

Cows head out after morning milking.

 

Stopping for a drink of water.

Freddy milks about 40 cows with the help of a hired hand. “I like to keep it at about 40 because one person can do it alone if they need to.” His brother Michael works part time on the farm and the rest of the family helps out whenever they can, including manning the farm stand through the summer months along with a couple other folks from the community.

The family has some fantastic activities planned for Sunday, including a pedal tractor obstacle course and a “Blackout Bingo” game designed by Ashlee’s 10-year-old son Colin in which kids will be able to blackout their card as they find certain things around the farm. There will also be plenty of information about the farm’s history, dairy breeds and more, and the tractors will be lined up for children to have a chance to check them out. Folks will be able to walk a path to the pasture to see the cows out at pasture.

Check out the dairy barn at Dunn Farm during Open Farm Day on Sunday, July 23.

Other Maine dairy farms participating in Open Farm Day include Caverly Farms in Clinton, where they will have a wagon tour through the farm, a milk-able model cow that the kids can try out, and a petting zoo. Hart-to-Hart Farm in Albion will be open 10 a.m.-4 p.m with farm tours, a petting area, pretzel making in the clay oven, ice cream making, and educational activities. Organic Valley will have an info booth at the Nezinscot Farm in Turner, which will have activities on both Saturday (their Garlic Harvest Festival) and Sunday, open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Along with cheese making and cheese sampling, they will have guided and self-guided tours. Tide Mill Organic Farm in Edmunds is a diversified dairy farm, and the family loves to share the farm to table experience with all who visit; enjoy a wagon ride around their farm and see the cows as well as poultry, pigs and produce. They are open 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Balfour Farm in Pittsfield is a dairy farm and creamery that also raises pigs, chickens and vegetables. The farm store and cafe – The Farm House – will be open 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.; guided walking tours of the farm will be at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. with cheese tastings happening all day. Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook will have its usual barnyard activities as well as free wagon rides, butter and ice cream making demonstrations and Milk-A-Cow from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Wagon rides at Caverly Farms in Clinton.

Harris Farm in Dayton will he having its 20th annual “Lunch on the Land” picnic lunch in the back meadow, which is a true farm to table experience. Enjoy burgers, sweet corn and glass bottled milk, all produced right on the farm. Homemade salads and desserts will be provided by Goodwins Mills United Methodist Church with proceeds benefiting the church. There will also be free, informational hayride tours of the farm.

Check out getrealmaine.com for full details about participating farms.