In December 2016, we visited Shepherds Craft Farm in Whitefield, Maine. The farm is a perennial based farm focused on restoration agriculture. Their goal is to produce quality wool, meat and milk from healthy animals whose lives enhance the environment.
Laurel Banks' enthusiasm for sustainable farming - both from an economic and environmental standpoint - is contagious. She has her own website and she uses her farm's Facebook page to show what fibers are available for sale as well as the most up to date happenings on the farm.
What may characterize Laurel's work best is her passion for producing the best possible fiber quality. We hope to send our subscribers a mailing of her yarn within the next couple of months when the Fall shearing comes back from the mill. We will stock any remaining yarn on our website.
Laurel welcomes visitors. As is typical on most farms, there aren't enough hours in the day, so please contact her ahead of time to arrange the visit. Her barn is like a greenhouse - warm and bright - and so clean that you would never know that you are sharing space with 100 sheep. (She plans to increase that number to 130 this year.) Watching her work her two types of dogs - Great Pyrenees (guards) and Border Collies (herders) - work for her is fascinating. They are an essential part of the farm.
The trip to Shepherds Craft Farm is not complete without lunch at Sheepscot General Store located directly across from the driveway. This store is set up in an old milking barn and it serves the best Reuben sandwich! This sandwich is made with all local ingredients and even the vegetarian option is made with locally produced tempeh.
In addition, there are two other sheep farms within a quarter mile of the store and farm. We ran out of time to visit those farms as well as the many other farms on that road. More information about the farms in Whitefield is available in Down East Magazine's April 2016 issue.