Meridian Industrial

Farming for the Community

5/7/2018 | Carleton Whaley

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Three years ago, Copper Hill Farm was a small pasture farm nestled at the top of a hill in Somers, CT. Today, there are still some similarities. The farm hasn’t grown much beyond its own borders, and it still has the same mentality of community-based outreach befitting a small, local farm. After that, however, a lot has changed. Driving up now, felled trees ring a parking lot and small trading outpost. The outpost itself, where customers can buy fresh vegetables and cured meats from Copper Hill, was built entirely from wood on the property. Much in the same way, owner Greg Hazleton is still as adamant as ever to utilize pasture farming: in effect feeding the soil, not the crops. With healthy soil the livestock and crops stay healthy, and it is a complicated system that Greg balances.

With the addition of two new workers, as well as a chef, Greg has more time than ever to plan and pursue the future of Copper Hill. One of the most ambitious and exciting plans for Copper Hill is their plan to open “The Whole Hog,” a specialty charcuterie kitchen run by Greg and his friend Howard, a chef and charcuterie expert.

“The idea is to further process anything that Greg raises,” Howard said, “whether it be pigs or pickles, vegetables, sausage, smoked meats. We can even do cooked products like pates, head cheese, guanciale, whatever Greg grows, we’re going to cook it.”

Walking up the hill, past the farm stand and up to the farm proper, I was astounded at the abundant life at the farm. Chickens ran amok in a large, penned field, and when one escaped Greg said “Oh, it’s ok, that’s just them telling me they’re ready to move.”

Past the chickens was the large, red barn that will eventually become their kitchen, and white turkeys chased each other around it. In another barn were almost two dozen pigs, and again and again Greg would stop to point out some little thing that was possible only because of the generosity of those in the community.

“These over here are spent grains from local breweries—that’s the main feed for the pigs. The breweries usually have to pay to have them disposed of because they produce so much, so it works out better for everyone if I take it off their hands. The grains here are from New Park Brewery, Hog River, and Cold Creek.”

Greg is interested, above all, in helping to give back to the community through farmers’ markets and other community events.

“It’s a really community-based place. For instance, the caretakers of Soapstone expressed interest in an event with the Farmers’ Market, to actually bring in farmers that need money during this time of the season-there’s like a two month break in the market for winter, and people need that income now. Bringing people in here like that is eye-opening for a lot of people who forget about that.”

When I asked Greg more about what the biggest changes were in the last three years, he smiled and said, “Well, we had two kids.”

We then met the rest of the Hazletons, including Greg’s wife Heather. Seeing them all together, it was clear that Copper Hill is more than a farm, it’s a home. With their large plans for reaching out to their neighbors, other local farms, breweries, and more, it’s clear that Copper Hill will soon be a home to more than just the Hazletons. In some ways, it’s already becoming a home for the entire community

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