Our Story and Philosophy
Tamarack Hollow Farm is 88 acres of rich Burlington soil, populated by a herd of heritage breed pigs, a team of Dutch Belted oxen, Pilgrim geese, Black Astralorp laying hens, and two full time farmers: Mike Betit and Amanda Andrews. During the growing season, a number of other animals call Tamarack Hollow home, including lambs, cornish cross and freedom ranger meat birds, heritage breed turkeys, twelve acres of organic vegetables, and a cast of farm workers. How did all these characters get to an abandoned farm in Burlington?
Mike Betit started raising pigs in 2001 in good old Vermont tradition: he bought his first pigs to clear his 3/4 acre backyard in Corinth, VT. As he was a vegetarian, he gave the meat to friends and neighbors. The next year these neighbors clamored for more of that delicious pastured meat. Two pigs rapidly turned into a full scale farm, moving over to rented fields. Mike left his teaching job in 2005 when he was recruited to New York City's famed Greenmarket. In 2009 Mike moved the farm to Burlington, taking on 88 acres of abandoned and overgrown farm land. Now those pigs have a much bigger backyard to clear.
Amanda started working on farms in the Spring of 2007, moving from Brooklyn to Orange County, NY to work at Keith's Farm, where she stayed until the Fall of 2008. While getting her hands dirty in NY's black dirt region, she took a shine to Bobolink Dairy's herd of Kerry cattle and to cattle in general. She spent her second year at Keith's Farm shuttling between the two farms, and working the New York City Greenmarket for both farms. Committed to farming as a lifestyle and hopefully a career, Amanda took off to the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC to study fiber arts, blacksmithing, and woodworking. It was hard to leave the NC hills, but in the Spring of 2009 she found her way to the Catskills for lambing season on a small homestead. From there, on to the Finger Lake Region for a season on Sweet Land Farm, a 350 member vegetable and egg C.S.A. Come November, she settled into the winter's work at Gray Horse Farm, getting her first chance to work hands-on with draft power.
After three solid years of farm work, Amanda turned down a fourth year internship to come to Vermont and add her skills to Tamarack Hollow Farm. In the Winter of 2010, she purchased two Jersey cows from Stony Pond Farm, adopted a single ox named Lucky, and started ordering seeds. Come on down to the farm to see the results.
Why full plate? or Our Philosophy
We believe that diverse farms offer the most sustainable option for the future of farming. Every product from our farm represents a vital component of our farm system: pigs aggressively clear overgrown ground, boosting soil fertility, and keeping weed pressure low. As a result, successive vegetable and cover crop rotations produce a bounty of produce, without the dependency on plastics and fertilizers that we find distressingly common in organic production. We strive to remove off farm inputs from our farm, starting with petroleum. Our oxen handle the cultivation (farmer's lingo for weed control and soil aeration) that is usually performed with tractors. We do still use tractors for initial plowing, mowing of cover crops, and harrowing of large areas; however, transitioning these tasks to draft power is foremost in our plans.
With a diverse farm, we can focus production type to soil type. For example, our cows, pigs, and poultry graze areas not suited for vegetables, thereby improving the land. For their hard work, both the pigs and poultry receive any left over vegetables, returning nutrients to the soil. We are dedicated to this system of farming, and as a result of good farming, we enjoy a good diet. We hope our C.S.A. members will enjoy both as well. A farm like ours is bountiful with the growing season, but productive year round. We hope the C.S.A. will grow to a year round membership as well.
We hope everyone can find something to value in this share. We simply want to provide a foundation for the nourishment of our neighbors. For the individuals and families that choose to join, we feel that this is an economical and responsible way to nourish your family.