A Family Farm
I honestly can't imagine a better childhood than growing up on farm in Maine. You've got space to explore and time to do it. Mom would kick
my brother and I out house after breakfast with instructions only to
"Be back for supper!"
As adults, we always took tremendous pride in the keeping the orchards of Leavitt Farms meticulously pruned, mowed and care for. Six generations
of family worked these fields and
I moved away from Maine in 2002 to pursue a great adventure with NASA. During the intervening 13 years I saw the orchards of my childhood. once sold, slowly fall into dismal disrepair.
The one that troubled me the most
was the orchard that surrounded
my mom's house.
My mom has lived in the Hillman Orchard, (named after the original owner Bo Hillman and his wife) for 35+ years. The house has a beautiful view east down to a bend in the Androscoggin River and south across the valley to main body of Leavitt Orchards (now Turner Highlands). She lived here when each year we harvested 1,000's of bushels of apples (some of the best on the farm).
In fact "Miss Nette", as the Jamaicans pickers called her, ran a crew for many seasons, after retiring from teaching
25+ years. On a visit home 6 years ago, mom asked me to prune down a row of trees blocking her east view of the river. With that began a five year mission of reviving all the apples trees surrounding her house on three sides.
Farming is a rewarding but very
humbling endeavor. As they the say, it's not a job, it's a lifestyle. It brings you into intimate contact with nature
and forces beyond your control, in a way no other profession does. The challenges are many but the harvest each fall rewards a year of hard work.
I had no desire to tend the 300+ acres of old, but farming is in my blood
and my able "crew" (another 4 generations of Leavitts) pitches in
when the workload is daunting.
Fall 2018 was the first in years
that the apples where abundant
and blemish free. It was a joy to welcome folks, many of whom remember the farm's glory days,
to harvest the crop. Moms, dads,
kids and grandparents all joined in