The next stop on our farm adventure was Upinngil farm in Gill, MA.
When we first arrived, we checked out the farm stand, which had produce from Upinngil and other local farms, raw milk (all out of stock by the time we got there!), their own cheeses, local dairy products, and also wheat berries and whole wheat flour from Upinngil. Also decorated with a miniature train set that runs up along the ceiling. I totally recommend you look for it.
I managed to get a hold of Cliff (Clifford Hatch, the owner of Upinngil farm). He took us out to the strawberry patches, grape vineyard, wheat fields, and their small herd of cows and discussed the history of Upinngil.
Cliff grew up in western MA in a farming family, later in his life, he and his wife Patricia decided to move to Gill to be near family and to begin farming in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley. One of the things he said that really drew him to the land of Upinngil farm was the natural beauty. A natural beauty Upinngil certainly is. On taking us up to the strawberry patch, we got an amazing view down the valley, with the crests of drumlins fading into the foggy horizon.
The land of Upinngil farm has an attractive combination of farm land and wilderness (trees and fallow land) mostly to maintain a healthy balance, enabling sustainable farming practices.
One really neat part of the farm is the fact that is grows small crops of wheat and rye for human consumption. Cliff says he is expanding this part of the farm in cooperation with another farmer to provide a larger variety of grains and beans.
To me, local grain is very exciting. Cliff laughs and says he partly began growing grains because his father thought it was a crazy idea.
Raw milk is another large part of Upinngil Farm. Their Ayrshire cows provide high quality raw milk and cheese for selling. Cliff initially got a herd for cheesemaking, but he recently got into raw milk sales. He indicated that the recent rise in raw milk popularity has created a rather large market niche that provides a steady income that helps small farms cope with the seasonality of farming costs.
The last thing Cliff told us about was the basis of Upinngil’s name. Obviously it came from being Up In Gill. The family played with the name and came up with Upinngil. However, they still get lots of interesting comments, from ‘did you know you spelled the name incorrectly?’ to calling it “Oopingil” with unexpected German or Eastern European flair.
Upinngil farm is now a multi-generational family farm as Sorrel, their daughter, has taken up small-scale sustainable farming and is following in her parents’ footsteps, working to connect people with their food. It is a beautiful farm, with beautiful underlying values, and unique high quality crops and products. We will certainly return, and hopefully we’ll get some of their raw milk next time.
After having a wonderful time talking to Cliff, and viewing the grounds, we took our lovely load of local products and headed back home to Boston, taking in the scenery along route 2. A lovely farm adventure day, if I don’t say so myself.