Bringing an Old Farm Back to Life

When I first saw the place, making it a working farm again did not even cross my mind. Putting stairs outside the front door (so I could get the bank on board), lifting the house and setting it on new sills, and ripping out just about everything inside were crowding the “Urgent” category. It wasn’t until years later that I sat on the steps and started to pay attention to the barns. One was beyond saving, sides heaving and roof gone. The other, filled with weeds and just about to start coming apart at the seams, caught my imagination. But it was dry inside. If only I had the money and the time…

In the 90’s the barn got a new lease on life, with a lift and a tuck. It was stabilized, the original posts and beams were preserved, and new siding and windows were installed.

I have always had a knack for growing things. I had the good fortune to live in Italy as a teenager. My cousins’ gardens were beautiful. So what if the apples had a mark or two, they were always tastier and better textured than what I had from American supermarkets growing up.

One by one, I added raised beds around the house, heavily fenced to keep the wildlife at bay, though the occasional baby rabbit still gets in and needs to be escorted out. When Greg and I met, he gave me two more raised beds as a gift. I started to look at the surroundings and think “What if?”

One summer evening we had two of our favorite farm couples over to dinner. The Wellingtons have their organic farm just a few miles away. The Barber’s farm is the centerpiece of the Schoharie Valley. Frederick Wellington said “you have space, you have light, you have water. Get some high tunnels.” We did and the Farm on Cotton Hill was reborn.

Years later, our first high tunnel became two. A dug well for irrigation proved insufficient, so we crowd-sourced a new pounded well. Slowly but surely and with a lot of hard work, The Farm on Cotton Hill is well on its way to becoming a successful, certified organic operation.