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News about the conservation land.

 

Breakneck Hill Farm Continues to Evolve

Friday, July 1st, 2016

“..yet my mind was not at rest, because nothing was acted, and thoughts ran into me, that words and writings were all nothing, and must die, for action is the life of all, and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing,”

Gerrard Winstanley 1649

Gerrard Winstanley was an activist in the wake of the English Civil War where King Charles I of England (the guy Charlestown is named after) lost his head (literally). Winstanley took a group of the poorest people to the common land on St Georges Hill where they built a small community and farmed the common land.

While many people talk and write about their beliefs, it means nothing if we don’t act. I have always believed that I must own my stay here on Earth and I must leave the parts I have control over better than when I found them. I must reduce my impact to this finite planet. And I must share with my community.

My original vision was for a larger farm but there are many examples of people raising significant amounts of food on just a few acres. That is my dream and goal. And it will include everyone who wants to be a part of it. I will reach out to communities where food security and quality are not taken for granted. As the Cow Fund finishes the process of dissolving, we will continue to disperse the funds generated from the sale of the last cows to hopefully help to inspire young farmers to look at how they can change the food system.

To this end, three organizations we are supporting that are making a difference in both Boston and Worcester. Over the course of the year you may see members at Breakneck Hill Farm helping with the management of the animals and the production and harvest of food.
Please consider making a donation to them.

Urban Farm Institute, Boston, https://urbanfarminginstitute.org

The Move, Boston, https://farmvolunteer.org/themoveteam/

YouthGROW, Worcester, http://www.recworcester.org/#!youth-grow/c1thu

Here are some pictures of the YouthGROW farm in Worcester.

YouthGROW4

YouthGROW1

Thanks to everyone who has helped and supported this adventure.

Paul Bourdon

Cows Moved, Cow Fund Gets Help From Our Friends from Boston

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

12294656_324893684301772_7349358830723890849_nMembers from The Move and Urban Farm Institute made the trek from Boston out to Southborough to help move the cows to their winter quarters at 61 Breakneck hill Rd and then stayed to help take down fencing. Both organizations help to train young people to grow and connect with their food and live healthier lives. We hope this relationship will continue after the Belted Galloways are gone. Breakneck Hill Farm will continue to expand its capacity to produce food on my 2.5 acres using ecologically resilient permaculture systems.

https://www.facebook.com/urbanfarminginstituteboston/photos/pcb.324894617635012/324893684301772/?type=3&theater

 

Cows Moving Off Pasture for Last Time

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

The Cow Fund decided to make Nov 22 the last day on the pasture. We’ll be moving the cows and taking down some of the fencing. Come join us. We’ll be joined by The Move and the Urban Farming Institute,

https://urbanfarminginstitute.wordpress.com/

The Cow Fund would like to give huge thanks to Kendall Sweeney who produced this beautiful video along with being a senior at Algonquin Regional HS and producing many of the senior pictures for her class is also captain of the (as far as I know) undefeated girls soccer team. She will continue to be involved as I concentrate on developing a permaculture farm at Breakneck Hill Farm (across from the conservation land).

Please feel free to stop by and see how this project is progressing.

The Move to Visit Breakneck Hill Farm

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

The Move is an organization that connects young people from Boston with farms and the food system. They travel to various farms both in Boston and in the suburbs. They will be coming to Breakneck Hill Farm on Oct 17 at 9:30 AM to help with a number of projects. We will be moving the cows and taking down the fence on the Back Pasture. We will also be getting the barn and barnyard ready for the cows to come back to in November. I am hoping to secure an oak log to split into rails if not we’ll be finishing some rails and setting up some home made split rail fence. Please stop by and say hi if your in the area. We’ll be serving grass-fed burgers for lunch.

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Urban Farm Institute Comes to Breakneck Hill Farm

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Five members of the Urban Farm Institute came out from Boston to visit Breakneck Hill Farm on a beautiful day on Sep. 18th. Our immediate goal was to pick some of the thousands of delicious and organic apples that are on the trees on the conservation land. The orchard was originally planted in the 1940’s and at one point had something like 3000 trees. Invasive plants, disease and development have destroyed almost all the trees. The only ones that survived were the ones in the cow pasture that were protected by the cows who ate the invasive plants and who also ate the apples that dropped to the ground. Drops are a problem in orchards as they harbor pests and diseases.

UFISep2015

The goal of the visit was also to make a connection and exchange ideas between our suburban farm and one from the city. The cow fund provided lunch and we discussed the many ongoing permaculture projects at Breakneck Hill Farm.

The Urban Farm Institute is a non-profit organization that trains inner city young people in the skills to grow high quality healthy food. They have a number of properties they have or are turning into small farms in Boston. They most recently acquired the 2 remaining acres of the historic Fowler Clark Farm right in the middle of Roxbury. This will be their headquarters with a garden filling what was an overgrown lot. Congratulations to the UFI!

https://www.facebook.com/urbanfarminginstituteboston/posts/315815115209629

Worcester YouthGROW comes to Visit Breakneck Hill Farm

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

IMG_1371IMG_1388IMG_1348_MG_7798A non-profit organization, YouthGROW, that provides agricultural opportunities for Worcester inner city young people came to visit Breakneck Hill Farm and the herd of cows on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land. A total of 40 including staff helped put up an electric fence on the Back Pasture. After putting up the fence, the group was treated to a lunch of beltie burgers. It was a great day by all accounts.

 

Cow Fund will Have Last Season on Conservation Land

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

 

Its not all bad. Beef sides and cuts will be available for the next 6 months. We will also be donating cows to a food pantry in Roxbury we have developed a relationship with.

I will also be keeping a couple cows on my property with the pigs and chicken. All are welcome to come by to see them. I will also still continue to have programs on my property.

Finally, we want to thank our supporter and all the people we have met over the past 14 years.

Please feel free to contact me for beef, pork, eggs or to come by and say hi.

Paul Bourdon

Operations Manager, Breakneck Hill Cow Fund

paul.bourdon@lfb-usa.com

Cows Future Still Uncertain, Please Attend the Conservation Meeting Apr 2nd, 7PM

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Read Paul’s blog entry here, then find out how you can help Save the Cows!

Thursday night the Cow Fund presented a grazing plan to the Southborough Conservation Commission and Stewardship Committee. The grazing plan was worked out in conjunction with the Conservation Service of the USDA. The Cow Fund plan is not just about producing healthy grass-fed beef but also caring for the land and hopefully saving our children’s future. We are attempting to follow the holistic management system as developed by Allan Savory. Savory has been described by Joel Salatin (http://www.polyfacefarms.com/) of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Inc. as one of the greatest ecologists of our time (Ted Talk). Savory’s system is fairly simple. By feeding the soil life we can not only make resilient soils that can produce healthy food but we can also sequester carbon. The potential is there to globally put Giga tons worth of carbon stably back into the ground. His system relies on using large herbivores to mimic the large herds that built the deep soils of the savannah and the great plains. Plants are grazed and manure is deposited in small areas using modern electrified fencing systems. Then the animals, cows in our case, are moved to the next paddock and the grass just grazed is allowed to fully recover. The process of graze and regrow in addition to the manure, is crucial to feeding the soil micro-organisms. These soil microbes, bacteria and fungi, feed larger invertebrates and they in turn feed the birds and other wildlife. A biologically active soil can hold fertility much more efficiently than chemical fertilizers which are water soluble and will leach and runoff the property ending up polluting waterways.

 

This system only works if plants are allowed to fully recover and that has been the problem from the beginning. The pasture on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land has extremely thin soil, mostly on moderate slopes. When we get dry spells as we have for the past few summers the grass stops growing and in order to not over graze the pasture we feed the cattle hay. The Cow Fund does not have the resources to do this and it sometimes ends up the members finance the purchases. We must maintain a minimum size herd not just because a cow takes 3 years to reach a marketable size but also because the holistic grazing system requires a certain density of herbivore to feed the soil life. The Cow Fund board is unanimous in our position that if we do not have the proper resources to manage the herd correctly we will not continue to keep cattle on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land. This is a very difficult decision but we feel it is right and it will certainly not stop us from doing this somewhere else.

Finally, we would like to thank all our long and short time supporters. We have met some great people both here in Southborough and in the greater community.

If you are concerned about the continuation of the cows and agriculture on Breakneck Hill then please consider attending the conservation meeting on April 2nd at 7PM in the Town House. Letters of support can be addressed to the conservation administrator Beth Rosenblum at brosenblum@southboroughma.com

Need more information?  Want to find out more about our plan and how you can help?  Follow this link:  Save the Cows

 

Middlesex County 4H Fair

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

H+P25Aug13

Community Garden Has Taken Shape

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

With over 50 families, the Community Garden has shaped up quite nicely even with the really dry April and most of May and then the really wet Jun.