During my food history class last week, I showed a video of Martha Stewart visiting our farm in Maine. The students were learning about the Agricultural Revolution in Britain. Late 18th century livestock improvers, such as Robert Bakewell, produced what we now call heritage breeds of livestock, such as Cotswold sheep and Gloucester Old Spots pigs. In 1994, I founded Kelmscott Rare Breeds Farm for the purpose of conserving these old-fashioned livestock breeds. Apparently this endeavor piqued Martha’s interest.
As I watched the video with the class, I saw the students smile, beaming with bright, in-the-moment expressions of delight. Some were laughing at the rambunctious sheep and pigs; others were awestruck by our one-ton draft horse named Pete. Their faces reminded me of how magical time this farm experience had been for both my family and myself. We lived on top of a hill on a farm in mid-coast Maine surrounded by expansive views and pastures inhabited by sheep, cattle, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and those indomitable draft horses. I had forgotten, but my students reminded me, of how those days were so full of beauty and intensity, of earthiness and excitement.
My students watched as I introduced Martha to the animals on the farm, chatting on camera about their histories and the importance of their continued presence on farms today. Visitors to the farm strolled through the barns, touched their first sheep, stood in awe as our border collie, Tess, scurried around the sheep to bring into the pasture. I also noticed how visitors, farm staff, and the students in this classroom now never lost their bright and curious smiles. During the time it took to show the video, all of us in that room were in the fields and barns, smelling the sweet hay in the loft, feeling the energy of life on a thriving farm on the coast of Maine. Perhaps we owe Martha a word of thanks for bringing us back to those days in Maine, stunningly bright and full of hope. You can see the video here: http://www.marthastewart.com/926681/endangered-farm-animals-kelmscott-farms