Longest Acres Farm is situated near Chelsea, the shire town of Orange County, VT. Owners Nick Zigelbaum and Kate Maclean are relatively new to farming: “We had wanted our own farm ever since we quit our office jobs and our city apartments in San Francisco,” says Kate. The couple spent time managing a farm in North Carolina, and it was here that they decided to fulfill their dreams and farm in their own right. But they knew they would need to relocate to the Northeast to be near their family.
After much fruitless searching for opportunities in the Northeast, a friend left a message on their answering machine about a small farm property coming up for sale in Vermont. The next day, Kate and Nick went to view the property. “We didn’t walk more than 50 yards from the car. We didn’t go into the house or the barn. We both said yes!” says Kate. “Some things just feel absolutely right.” The couple moved to the farm in May. And with a new baby, it is certainly an adventure for all.
Longest Acres Farm comprises 120 acres, with 30 acres of open pasture and the rest mixed woodland. After much consideration, Nick decided that Rotokawa Devon and American Milking Devon cattle were ideal breeds for the farm’s environment. The breeds are well known for their hardiness and tolerance of weather extremes, and thrive on rough grazing, while the cows are excellent, easy-calving and milky mothers. “They are beautiful, docile animals,” says Nick. “The meat is tender and is unrivalled in texture and flavor.” As well as the small herd of cattle, the couple has a small flock of Icelandic Sheep, known for their hardiness, parasite-resistance and tolerance of marginal land, as well as their flavorful meat and excellent fleece, which Kate spins into yarn. The couple markets their own sheepskins along with the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW lamb. Working with the Devons, the two species make a powerful grazing team.
In addition to being Certified Animal Welfare Approved, the cattle and sheep at Longest Acres Farm are Certified Grassfed by AGW, the first—and only—food label in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100 percent grass and forage diet, and raised entirely outdoors on pasture or range. “Our farm is committed to its Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW and Certified Grassfed by AGW certifications,” says Nick. “We practice intensive rotational grazing, and our sheep and beef cattle are fed 100 percent grass in the sunny season and hay through the winter. No grain is ever used.”
Both Kate and Nick place a huge emphasis on animal husbandry and welfare at Longest Acres. Nick believes that observing the animals allows you to quickly pick up any changes in their wellbeing. “Knowing the animals intimately is the best way to be proactive when it comes to animal welfare,” he says. With such passion and commitment to animal welfare, applying for certification with Animal Welfare Approved by AGW was an obvious first step after Nick and Kate purchased their farm. Nick is proud to be part of the program, which he describes as “the most stringent farm certification available.” The fact that it is also free to farmers and ranchers is yet another bonus.
Nick and Kate are working on growing their beef herd and sheep flock, and are in the process of building a barn. Longest Acres Farm’s Certified Animal Welfare Approve by AGW and Certified Grassfed by AGW products are available directly from the farm or by seasonal delivery to Boston year-round. For more information, contact Longest Acres Farm at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-685-7757. Follow Nick and Kate’s progress on Kate’s blog at longestacres.com.