There’s a growing concern in agriculture that there won’t be enough young farmers in the future to keep up with demand. Fortunately, Phil and Becky Brand decided to step into the soil and grow some of the most beautiful organic vegetables you’ve ever seen. Farming vegetables along with dairy, pork and beef, this New Hampshire couple is paving the way for a bright and inspirational future in farming. We couldn’t wait to hear more about their story and share it with you.
Tell us a little bit about your background. What led you into farming?
We both grew up with inspiring gardeners in our family and it imprinted on us how you can grow amazing things to eat starting from a small seed. Watching the hard work, sweat and hours spent working in the garden really translated into love and providing something for your loved ones. Ironically we both started working on a pick your own strawberry farm when we were younger and have continued to be passionate about farming today. Phil studied economics and politics and I majored in Environmental Horticulture; we both graduated from UNH.
How old is the farm? What is its history?
Brandmoore Farm has been an operating farm for four years. We are both beginner farmers and have been on a steep learning curve for most of that time. We are starting to feel more comfortable now and are excited about that.
We lease a large and beautiful property in Rollinsford, NH. The landowner, Robin Aikman, farmed the property for many years, during which time she conserved 400 acres of rolling farmland along the Salmon Falls River. We lease the land along with the barns, some equipment and the house we live in. With much of the infrastructure in place, we were really able to hit the ground running when we arrived. It is a special opportunity and we feel blessed be here.
Why did you choose New Hampshire as a location for your farm?
I am originally from RI and Phil grew up in a few different states, eventually landing in Antrim, NH. We both attended the University of New Hampshire, introducing us to the Seacoast area. After living in different places after college, we both ended up back on the Seacoast working on local farms. This area of NH has a great farming community and there is an appreciation for local foods in general. We are happy to be a part of the local food community here on the Seacoast.
We were able to get started as a dairy in NH because of the ability to sell raw milk directly from the farm store and from farmers markets. Eventually, we would like to work with a cheese maker who would make delicious cheese from our milk.
Is your family involved in the business?
Family support has been important to us. Phil’s parents and two of his three brothers live nearby and are involved on a regular basis with a wide variety of the farm work. Two of my cousins, Dani and Beth Jordan, work on the farm. Other cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents have all been a part of the farm in different ways.
The most important thing is that both Phil and I feel supported by our families in what we are doing. Also, we just had a baby and are excited to start our own family here on the farm.
Congratulations to you both! Tell, us, what do you like most about farming?
It’s nice to get up each day with a clear purpose and to feel productive. Growing healthy, good food and being able to bring that to an appreciative community is very rewarding. Challenges that farming brings are pretty constant and it’s great if you have a flexible approach or enjoy problem solving.
Phil and I are constantly reassessing and rethinking our plans because things aren’t always as they look on paper. In the broader picture we enjoy the farm life style and the commitment to the place. On the ground level, it’s nice to look behind you after weeding a bed of carrots and visually see your progress for the day.
Can you tell us about the animals on your farm. How are they cared for?
Our herd of dairy cows spends most of their time eating grass, chewing their cud, sauntering to and from pasture and making great milk. We started hand milking four cows, and now have about 50 cattle including milking cows, heifers, calves and steers we raise for beef. We keep a colorful mix of dairy breeds, including Jerseys, Guernseys, Ayrshires, Brown Swiss and Linebacks. All the cows are certified organic.
For three seasons they are out on pasture both day and night, enjoying a mix of grasses and clover. They come back to the barn following Phil’s call and are milked once a day in the early mornings. The cows’ schedule influences our own seasonal and daily schedule and it creates a whole lot of work; from making their feed through the summer, cleaning stalls, milking, bottling milk, dairy processing and rotating them around pasture: it keeps us busy! We love the cows’ temperaments and their calming presence. We feel honored to work with them each day.
We also raise pigs on pasture and on the border of the field abutting the woods. It gives them the chance to root around in the soil to find nuts or roots to eat, trees to scratch their backs on, shade to protect themselves from the sun and lots of space to roam. The pigs eat a mixture of grain, extra vegetables from the garden and extra whey or milk from the dairy operation.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about Brandmoore Farm?
We welcome the public to come to the farm and check out our farm store, open daily; dawn through dusk. There are always animals to watch and farm activity is ongoing each day. Kids and adults enjoy the farm in all of its natural beauty and we hope to bring life to the farm so people can enjoy it. Providing fresh, good local food to the community is important to us and being a part of a thriving community makes it all worth it.
We love what we do and are excited to keep growing and evolving as a business. Being first generation farmers we are still experimenting with systems and how to run a farm business. We are passionate about quality, good food and providing a healthy option for people, that much we are sure about.
70 Sligo Road
We have some great ideas sprouting up so watch this space for more delicious finds.