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Lower Connecticut River Valley Region Farms
Featured Farmer | Baylee Drown & Ryan Quinn | Long Table Farm

A famous German writer once said that food always comes first and (only) then come morals. This is obviously not true at Long Table Farm.  Here is a farm run on ecologically-sensitive principles, holistic and sustainable, where the business centers on efficiency and relationships.  While Baylee and Quinn farm because they love it, they operate their brand of 'classy agriculture' in an admittedly capitalistic environment.  Their agribusiness has been sharpened by lessons from Baylee's advanced coursework, given heart and soul by a philosophy of doing what's right for the land with a keen sense of community and involvement.  The result is a circle of life, an integration of livestock and crops which complement each other while tasting great and providing the best possible food for appreciative local residents.


Farmer Quinn is proud of the farm's ability to attract a staff of WWOOFers, young people who want to live, work and learn on farms and small-holdings, with people who want to share their knowledge and way of life.  Baylee and Quinn house them in cabins (four at present) and offer communal meals, laundry, internet, and sick pay along with comfortable lodging and a living wage.  No wonder that one farm worker told me her work-life balance is the best part of being there.


Long Table Farm is spread over three locations.  The main one is 4-1/2 acres on Beaver Brook Road in North Lyme.  The actual 2-1/2 acres under cultivation is augmented by an arrangement with two Lyme land trusts, Bloom Preserve (winter squash and garlic) and Hand-Smith (potatoes and sweet potatoes). 


There are three ways to buy the farm's offerings.   CSA is top priority, and they offer various plans including pick-your-own, small market, summer and/or fall, and even a pork package.  Pick-your-own and CSA pickup take place at Beaver Brook while an additional option is Tiffany Farm Market (also in Lyme) on Saturdays.  The farm supplies Food Works in Guilford and Old Saybrook. 


The produce list is endless!  Buyers are spoiled for choice and are especially enthusiastic about the Easter egg-sized radishes, the strawberries, asparagus and Brussels sprouts, and their fresh mellow ginger.  The success of these crops is due in large part to the semi-permanent bed system, harrowed but not plowed.  Everything edible on their Thanksgiving table is grown and raised on the farm. 


Chickens are available frozen from May.  These are broilers, 'Freedom Rangers' known for being good survivors.  Ducks provide eggs for the family and staff at present, but there are plans to expand and sell them to the public in future.  Quinn finds ducks more appealing than chickens.  For one thing, ducks are less destructive!  The pigs, all raised on the farm, are heavy-duty 'weed-whackers', supplementing the efforts of the 5 cows as needed.  Damaged sweet potatoes are fed to the pigs in a beautiful cycle of purpose and efficiency.  Voles used to wreak havoc on that crop until the 'huntress' and the other well-behaved dogs on the farm reduced sweet potato losses by 30%.


Holistic management practice-- not just agricultural practice-- is the framework for making decisions on the farm.  Paramount is the focus on efficiency of time, energy and space.  Resources-wise, 15% may be devoted at any given time to experimenting and trialing, whether it addresses a particular crop, a technique or infrastructure.  Their current 5-year plan includes finishing work on their new barn with a view to offering value-added products. 


Challenges include changing weather patterns as the seasons seem to be advancing by a week or two, meaning the onset of both spring and fall.  There are more extreme weather events which challenge crop survivability and demand a search for varieties which last longer.  Their pop-up markets selling winter greens, grown in poly tunnels, can last until Christmas with good weather.  These greens grow more slowly, given the poorer light, but extend the season for fresh local food as long as possible.  The summer CSA, which has 140 members, is followed by a fall one, currently 100 members who look forward to another 9 weeks of plenty.


Long Table Farm benefits from Baylee's life-long experience with farming and Quinn's pragmatic, realistic yet idealistic outlook.  They are Millennials with a strong sense of mission and authenticity.  They are here to stay.

By Sandra Childress | September 2022

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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