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Lower Connecticut River Valley Region Farms
Featured Farmer | Dan Frame | Kiwi Roots Farm

‘Wings & Roots’ is a Danish country music trio. It could also be the inspiration for Dan Frame's unusual life so far.  This handsome young market farmer was born on the South Island of New Zealand into a farming family.  Starting with dairy, moving on to beef cattle, Dan spent a long and varied apprenticeship in his youth working with his Dad on their farm, as well as with other farmers in the area, and cultivating business skills.

At seventeen, Dan learned about opportunities for Kiwis to qualify for an agricultural visa to work as a custom harvester in the U.S.  A visa is good for a year, and Dan worked summers for his Dad in NZ, followed by summers here.  Beginning in Texas and then throughout the Midwest, his experiences ranged from harvesting through custom combing operations, cutting through wheat, sorghum, corn and grass seed, as well as a few years working on a diversified cropping farm in North Dakota.


Desiring a winter to break up back-to-back summers, he went to Colorado to work at a ski resort.  During his second winter stint in Colorado, he met his wife, a Connecticut native, while they worked together as ski-lift operators.   After a long, long-distance relationship for 3 years, they moved together to Utah where they started their family, and Dan continued his work in the ski industry with snow-making.  Although they enjoyed mountain life to the fullest, the couple began exploring far-flung possibilities for farming, including dairying, which led them to a brief period of time in Vermont.


Eventually their search ended just before the pandemic when they found their beautiful property and established Kiwi Roots Farm in Westbrook.  Kathleen's family is nearby, a boon for their two children, and 2023 marks their second year in business as a thriving market farm.

This charming property comprises 6-1/2 mostly-wooded acres, 2 acre homestead, and 1/3 acre under cultivation. Vegetables are the mainstay, and the farm only sells what Dan grows (for the time being, anyway) and only in the Farm Store.  He practices "generative farming”, a cycle of endless renewal, with organic compost from Ellington, CT and organic /non-GMO seeds in raised beds.  Dan loves his location where the store is open four days a week and his customers come to him.  On weekends, Kathleen helps in the shop but, otherwise, Dan does nearly everything by himself.

Meeting customers and watching them exchange recipes with each other is a highlight of Dan’s week. He finds small market gardening, at a pace that's comfortable, very rewarding.  There's joy in interacting with people who appreciate the difference in buying local produce in season and grown in more sustainable ways.


Dan’s learning constantly, reading and taking courses on whatever interests him, and using social media to good advantage.   He tries innovative measures like the Japanese paper-pot planter that can plant 400 seeded paper pots into 50' beds in ten minutes.  His walk-in cooler, grow lights and solar panels are in steady use.

Small farms can work very well, and inspiration comes in part from Dan's guru in Maine.  Eliot Coleman developed an experimental market garden and learning center in Harborside, Maine 50 plus years ago. That enterprise produces food year-round and is a model of sustainable agriculture.  On any farm, there is no down-time.  In Dan's operation, winters are spent planning for the coming year, ordering seed and starting plants in the greenhouse, maintenance, and chopping wood for the wood burner.


The growing season begins in April and ends about mid-November.  When daylight falls below 10 hours, growth slows. Cool season crops hold steady.  Kiwi Farms is particularly proud of its high-quality salad mix and micro-greens, grown under lights. Later, intensive inter-planting yields prodigious outputs except of beets, squirrels’ favorite vegetable!  You'll find all the usual veggies and herbs-- plus kohlrabi, garlic scapes, and Daikon radishes-- among the forty products Dan produces on organic principles. And if you're looking for something new for dinner, ask him about Swiss Raclette.


The ultimate inspiration for the Frames is raising their family, including their young son and daughter, on their farm in the same spirit Dan and his four sisters were raised in New Zealand.  As the Dalai Lama once remarked:  “Wings to fly, roots to put down, and reasons to stay.”

By Sandra Childress | September 2023

About the Author: Sandra Childress tends to her herbs on 1/3 acre in Essex.  She is reluctantly moving toward growing them exclusively in pots above ground as an appeasement to her creaking joints.  If it's edible and medicinal, Sandra is willing to give it a try.  If they have a perennial inclination in an east-facing exposure, she's a dévotee for life.  Hello sage, rosemary and thyme. 

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