Our Rural Heritage
The front page of the first issue of the Hampton Gazette illustrated the importance of farming in our town. “Under All Is The Land”, written by Pearl Scarpino, was the first of many articles on local agriculture. Coverage has included timber harvests, tree farms, “truck gardening”, poultry and sheep. Although the dairy farms that once defined our countryside and sustained most families are no longer, agriculture, as Pearl reported, remains our “principal industry”. When we covered “Hampton Harvests” in 2010, there were five contributors to the farmer’s market. We’ve written recent articles on Full Moon, Three Niece, Hampton Hill, Turtle Ledge, and Bright Acres farms, on alpacas, apples, maple syrup, the “Spring Plow” and beekeepers, and Cindy Bezanson continues to keep us entertained with delightful tales of her chickens.
An article written in 1988 by Claire Winters remembered twenty-eight dairy farms in the 1930’s. Pearl’s article reported that the Grand List of 1957 named twenty-one dairy farms, four in 1978 at the time of publication. Now there is only one left. Those old barns that housed all those dairy operations, or sheltered the family’s assortment of cows, goats, sheep and chickens, are also fading from the landscape with the erosive forces of time and weather. This year the Gazette has committed to capturing for posterity those barns with photographs, histories and memories. We started with the Burell’s barn, the Freiman’s barn, and this month, the Halbach’s. So far the history of the farms has proved as diverse and interesting as the families who owned them.