Gateway Farm

The Gateway project began in 2006, when Brian Love and Chris Farmer cleared and fertilized the field, grew cover crops, processed the timber into lumber, and built a barn.   They subsequently constructed the pond, water system, solar electric system, and fence that will support their agricultural production. Their vision employs renewable resources to demonstrate and perpetuate the synergy of economy, ecology, and technology.   The Gateway Site Plan provides more explanation.

Chris Farmer Gateway ClearingThe clearing process was as much about witnessing the destruction of the forest as it was hard work. Trackhoes ripped whole trees from the ground; chainsaws cut them into pieces; a tractor moved and sorted them; a bulldozer graded the soil; and the workers learned about what it takes to feed and shelter ourselves with resources   from our own land. Here Chris Farmer cuts a 75-year-old tulip poplar into saw logs.
Gateway Barn FrameIn processing timber from the clearing, better quality hardwood was used for manufacturing finish wood product (trim, paneling, flooring, etc.) off site, while the pine, low-grade logs and waste boards were used for structural lumber.   Brian and Farmer designed the barn based largely on the availability of these materials, and raced to complete it before the first batch of finish lumber arrived.   The barn stores lumber from the clearing, farm equipment, animal pens, hay, and will one day be home to both fuel and compost tea production.

Spreading Amendments at Gateway FarmThe soil of the Gateway Field was initially impoverished by repeated clearcutting and Prohibition-era corn farming.  In the first season, we tilled in imported animal manures, powdered minerals, and cover crops (millet, soybeans, and buckwheat) to raise soil fertility and organic matter content before planting a perennial pasture of orchard grass, fescue, and clovers. Here, Brian spreads rock phosphate.

Icelandic SheepThe first livestock to graze our pasture were five bred Icelandic ewes, brought to the farm in January 2008.  Icelandic sheep are a true triple-purpose breed, supplying outstanding wool, meat, and milk.  They are noted for their hardiness and ability to thrive on grass alone.  We use intensive rotational grazing management, which benefits both pasture and flock health.
Clove and RamblerClove and Rambler, twin lambs, born in the spring of 2008.  We added nine beautiful lambs to the flock that spring, and all of our ewes birthed unassisted on the pasture.  Icelandic sheep range in color and pattern, can be horned or polled (genetically not horned), and have naturally short tails.
Luna the Sheep DogLuna, the farm’s new guard-pup-in-training, is a Great Pyrenees.  Her breed, known as the “Gentle Giant,” is popular for guarding livestock due to their impressive size and even temperament. Luna was introduced to our adult ewes at an early age and is shown here bonding with a lamb.  At six months of age in May 2008, she resides alongside the sheep and lambs in the field and continues to hone her guardian skills.

Caroline at Gateway FieldCaroline, who takes care of Luna and the sheep at the Farm, holding a new lamb, Mountain, towards the end of lambing season. Behind her is Camp Elliott Road and the entrance to Earthaven.

Brian Love Shearing Sheep at Gateway FieldBrian learning the art of traditional hand shearing. Icelandic sheep have unique fleeces that are dual coated, multicolored, and can be sheared twice a year.  The fall fleece is excellent for spinning, while the spring fleece is better for felting.  We intend to use our wool for value-added fiber arts, and will sell surplus raw wool to local handspinners.
The pond improves the farm’s microclimate and will eventually be home to ducks and sunfish.   It also provides a magnificent view of the farm, with all of its life forms and systems interacting synergistically.