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November 15, 2018
Field View Farm, Orange, Connecticut
Wow, that’s old. I hope my favorite local historian finds his way to this article.
As far as I can tell, Field View Farm is the second oldest continually-operating farm in the US that is still held by the descendants of the original owner, Thomas Hine. Incredibly, the 12th or 13th generation of the Hine family is running it today.
When a farm is this old, the claim that it is the second oldest American farm comes with some caveats. There are older farms in the US, but most of those farms are no longer in the hands of the original family or had interruptions in farming operations over the years. The only older operating farm I found is Shirley Plantation in Virginia established 1613, which is still home to the relatives of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate General who surrendered to end the American Civil War.
Back in Connecticut, Field View Farm is a gem. I pray that it does not change hands or fail in our lifetimes. Please go buy some milk or some transportation services.
Wait, why transportation services?
In 1996, there was a devastating fire at Field View Farm. I was just a teenager then, but I remember the fire. They never really restored the historic main barn back to it’s prior glory, too expensive. Instead, in addition to the farm stand, ice cream shop and milk production, the Hines’ put increased effort into a transportation equipment company.
Field View is picturesque but not beautiful or pristine. If you are looking for a perfect, Martha-Stewart-lives-here farm, you won’t find that level of pristine glory at working farm like this one.
What you will find are cows. Sometimes, I drive around the corner and see the cows in the field as the sun sets behind the trees in the distance. It’s a beautiful scene. I find it hard to look away, but I have to because, no driverless cars.
When we bring our kids to Field View for ice cream in the summer, they like to walk down past the cow stalls to see all the animals. And, I am reminded that cows scare me. They are enormous. They don’t look that big when they are moseying through a field. But get up close, and you realize just how easily they could crush you.
There are lots of other cuter, cuddlier animals at the farm. When I was about eight years old, I got two little kittens from Field View, Snowball and Bubblegum. Yes, that’s right. I even get my kittens from farm stands.
The Hine Farm a.k.a. Field View Farm preexists the towns that sprung up around it. Here’s a map of Orange, CT, in 1858. Oh man, I love old maps. Look to the left, above the oval labeled Grassy Hill, between the Y in Derby and the W in Woodbridge, you’ll see a dot for A. Hine’s farmhouse. All of the surrounding land belonged to the Hine family. Then, as it does today, the farm stretched into three cities, Derby, Orange and Woodbridge.
In case you needed more proof of my affinity for old maps, from the University of Connecticut’s Map and Geographic Info Center (MAGIC), you can view aerial photos from 1934 along side a Google map of the present day. Field View’s historic Colonial farmhouse sits just above that X on the left side of the photo. There is an arched driveway behind it in the present day. Some of the local farm land was sold to developers over the years. You can see the swirling 55+ community across the street from the old Hine’s farmhouse. It used to be a massive corn field.
I can’t believe more people aren’t doing articles on this farm. CBS Sunday Morning should be doing a feature on this incredible plot of American soil, and the family that has farmed it for centuries. The New York Times did do a short article on them in 1989. Relative to the age of the farm, I guess that wasn’t so long ago.
If it was summer, I would be writing about the farm’s ice cream shop. It’s delicious, but now that the weather turned colder, this farmstand5 is doing double duty. It’s highlighting my finds from a classic, working farm and breaking new ground by debunking the myth that farm stands are a ‘summer thing’. Keep scrolling to get an idea of the finds you can haul home during the colder months.
#5 Bales of hay
If you’re feeding livestock, planting grass seed or trying to create that perfect farm-style vignette for a wedding or Autumn decoration, you need good old fashioned bales of hay. The Hines’ hay several fields around town in the late summer. Hey, when you’ve got the equipment, you might as well use it.
#4 Brown eggs
Farm fresh eggs are one of my weaknesses. If I see an egg stand, I’m probably going to stop the car and buy some, which I clearly did as this photo was taken on my kitchen table, not at Field View Farm.
#3 Late-season butternut squash
You know I love butternut squash. One of these babies is already a soup in my fridge. If you are interested, here’s my recipe for Farm Stand Butternut Squash and Apple Soup.
#2 Handcrafted yogurt
I have a confession. I just can’t get into plain yogurt. My husband used to eat it with honey, and my sister really likes the tart flavor. What I do like though are yogurt sauces, and this homemade yogurt from the farm is perfect for a recipe.
#1 Fresh milk
Talk about living life like our ancestors did. Raw milk is just like it sounds with minimal processing from cow to jug. My husband is a huge fan of raw milk. You pretty much have to take it away from him, or he’ll chug it. Things could get messy. The farm stand offers raw milk with a bunch of required warnings, but it’s pretty special. As far as I can tell, there is only one other farm in New Haven County that offers raw milk. Prefer pasteurized milk? Don’t worry, Field View offers pasteurized milk as well.
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