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Pittsfield Historical Society's

History of Pittsfield on Disk

Snakeroot Organic Farm

www.snakeroot.net/farm
27 Organic Farm Road

by Tom Roberts, January 2004


When we bought the land in 1995, there was a run out hayfield (that had been used for yarding wood) in the middle of a 35 acre piece of mostly wooded land. Access to the field was via an extremely rutted woods road that was difficult to even walk on. So the first thing we did was to hire contractor Dick Webber of Stetson to haul in many loads of gravel and make a passable driveway for 700 feet from the Snakeroot Road to the hayfield. Once at the field, we had him make a large graveled turn-around area, first bulldozing the existing topsoil into three large piles. Ten years later, we are still using the soil from these piles in various projects around the farm.

When we moved onto the land, we had Red (a free-lance trailer mover) move our two mobile homes (Tom & Lois in one, and Dorothy (Tom's mother) in the other) from Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont. Dorothy had a front and back deck added the first year. She also had Red move her newly built garage from Dixmont, and put it on a slab that Dick Webber made for us. Red moved a shed roof from Dixmont and we attached that to the side of the garage.

In need of storage space, we built the "back shed" with poles, recycled boarding and roll roofing. This shed has since been twice added on to.

Tom & Lois wanted to expand their home, so in 1997, we had Dick Webber add a 32' x 24' slab next to our house, insulated underneath with 2 inches of styrofoam. Since this was all we could afford, we waited until the following year to build a roof over the slab. The roof is held up by cedar posts, and extends beyond the slab by 3 feet for summer shade. We leaned long cedar poles against the roof and temporarily covered these with plastic to enclose the area from the weather. We also added a wood shed onto the north side of the addition. We installed an antique wood cookstove, and this is how the three of us weathered the ice storm of '98, melting ice for water, and huddled around the stove. We were without electricity for ten days.

In 1999, we began enclosing the addition more permanently. We added a sunroom along the front of the trailer and around the short end of the addition and along it's long (southwest) side. We first built the sunroom with sloping walls, but two years later re-did it with vertical walls. The roof and east side of the sunroom are made of 4' by 8' sheets of polycarbonate (Lucite) and the west wall is made from recycled window sashes.

By 2001, we used polycarbonate sheets for two of the walls of the addition, along with some recycled thermopane windows, which makes it very bright and affords a good view of the outdoors. The north wall is of stackwall construction, using short 12" long cedar logs laid up with mortar.

All of the tender perennials from the farm are brought in to the addition to overwinter: rosemaries, aloes, hybiscus, jades, bays, spider plants, and others.

The Sugarhouses

In 2000, Tom built a 16' by 16' sugarhouse 300' downhill into the woods. In 2002, another larger one was built 300' further downhill. Both structures are made of cedar & spruce poles, floored with recycled boarding, and covered with old greenhouse plastic. Both were built in December in anticipation of spring sap flow. The sugarbush, 99% on tubing, is currently up to 250 taps.

The Greenhouses

In 1997 we put up the 27' by 96' greenhouse we had brought with us from Dixmont. This is where we start all of the farm's seedlings and grow tomatoes and cukes for early harvest.

Next to the big greenhouse is the vegetable washing area, where harvest from the fields gets washed, bunched and packed for farmers' markets. This area is covered by old greenhouse plastic roof on a cedar pole frame. Next to this is the greenhouse shed built in 1998 which houses grenhouse supplies and marketing boxes. An 8' by 8' cooler was built in 2000, and it is used mostly to keep overwintering produce from freezing during the winter.

A second 22' square "wooden" greenhouse was built in 1999, with a frame of cedar and spruce poles. In 2001 we bought and erected a third greenhouse 14' by 60' with metal frame. Both of these smaller greenhouses are unheated, and are used for season extension for both spring and fall crops.

[For a history of the development of the farm itself, go to www.snakeroot.net/farm/History.shtml.]



Entire website and contents ©Pittsfield Historical Society 2001-2015.
Website design by Snakeroot DataGraphics
In the interest of Pittsfield.
File name: SnakerootOrganicFarm.shtml
Version: Tuesday 22 December, 2009