Springing Into the Season With Lambs’ First Pasture Moments

Peggy Rockefeller Farm Creates Community at First Public Lamb Event


BAR HARBOR—Before the lamb hooves galloped out of the barn and into a grassy field of historic Maine farmland, and a throng of admirers took photos and video, oohing and ahhing at the lambs first moments outdoors ever, people waited outside in the warm Saturday air and made conversation.

“Have you heard the peepers yet?” one man with a walking stick asked another.

“Have you ever had phoebes nesting in your house?” a woman yelled into the ear of a man in a lawn chair that they’d brought to the event, securing the man and the chair a few feet from the electric fence that would enclose the lambs.

“Have you ever seen the lambs run?” another woman asked as they walked past a man holding a puppy, past children swinging in their parents’ arms, past a singer serenading the crowd that easily filled all the parking areas around.

Image: Carrie Jones

They definitely saw the lambs run Saturday morning when the lambs took to the pasture for the first time this year. Only a few hesitated initially before venturing into the grass and blue sky and away from the barn.

“Look at them! That one’s going back!” a little girl squealed.

“No, no look. He’s getting brave,” her dad said as the lamb turned back toward the other lambs, venturing out of the barn chute and toward the others. Two seconds later it was bounding through the grass. Brave.

“Leaping into Spring” also featured a pop-up farmers’ market and food systems fair. Representatives from local farms, student groups, and food access organizations were at the event. There were also farm tours. The event was free. 

“This was beautiful,” someone murmured as they walked down the Crooked Road back to their car. “It felt like community.”

It did.

Image: Carrie Jones

The College of the Atlantic’s Peggy Rockefeller Farm on Norway Drive is 125 acres of farmland. Two-thirds of it is wetland or second-growth forest. The easements are administered by Acadia National Park. The farm is also within the Northeast Creek watershed and considered “part of the largest remaining contiguous area of historic farmland on Mount Desert Island.”

The land was gifted to the college in 2010 for agriculture and conservation. David Rockefeller, Sr., made that gift. It provides multiple student opportunities but it’s also a true working farm.

According to its website,

“PRF focuses on the production of pastured and rotationally grazed livestock products. The farm raises grass-fed beef and pork as well as certified organic pastured poultry and lamb.  Currently, the farm has a mixed flock of Romney and Khatahdin sheep for dual purpose production. The farm is also home to a small mixed herd of Belted Galloway and Red Devon cattle, Gloucestershire Old Spot and Large Black cross pigs and a flock of approximately 250 mixed breed laying hens.  Seasonally PRF raises MOFGA Certified Organic Poultry in the form of and additional meat chickens (broilers), ducks and turkeys for the Thanksgiving market. All poultry is slaughtered on site in PRF’s poultry processing facility.

“In addition to livestock, PRF also cultivates a mixture of certified organic fruits, berries, vegetables in a small organic garden.  The half-acre garden plot grows a rotating mixture of long season vegetable crops for storage, as well as Sparkle strawberries and two rows of dwarf apple trees, representing over two dozen apple varieties.  Off in the field, our heritage apple orchard contains 25 unique Maine varieties on standard rootstock, including Addison Ancient, Orland Town Office and Captain Zero.  In the backyard of the 1920s farmhouse are a few peach trees and a raspberry patch.”

Photos by Carrie Jones and Shaun Farrar. Video by Shaun Farrar



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