Pasture-walk participants ride out to the research plots at Philo Ridge Farm during Open Farm Week in Charlotte. Photo by Sara Flack.

Edward Pitcavage, Philo Ridge Farm

Vermont Open Farm Week celebrated its third year of families flocking to farms for tastings, tours, dinners, workshops and more last week. Here in Charlotte, Philo Ridge Farm hosted two events welcoming guests of all ages to visit the farm.

On Tuesday, Aug. 15, the farm held its first event and hosted a pasture walk led by expert grazing consultant Jim Gerrish to showcase the pasture-research projects University of Vermont Extension is running at the farm. The UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture, a program through UVM Extension, hosted the event and has initiated a number of research projects at Philo Ridge Farm, including studying the impacts of pasture soil compaction, planting different forage varieties and monitoring wood-chip use for wintering livestock at the farm.

Gerrish lectured on creating healthy soil, grazing management on clay soils and beef production. He has written a regular monthly column in The Stockman Grass-Farmer magazine for over 12 years and has authored two books on grazing and ranch management. Other presenters included Juan Alvez, a pasture program researcher with UVM Extension, and Fay Benson, an educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Philo Ridge Farm rotationally grazes its herd of 30 Belted Galloways. The herd stays in a bedded pack barn with a wood-chip exterior pack in the winter months. The pack is then removed in the spring and composted and added to vegetable beds the following year. Ed Pitcavage, farm manager at Philo Ridge Farm, commented, “The grazing plan we created this year focused on getting the cattle herd to areas of the farm that haven’t seen livestock. We are trying to build organic matter, soil fertility and the infrastructure for grazing and working toward high-quality 100 percent grass-fed beef.”

Putting the technicalities of pasture management aside, Philo Ridge Farm welcomed guests for a second time on August 19, for a children’s musical play day. Kids enjoyed bubbles, face-painting and digging in the clean woodchip bedding that will soon be a comfortable surface where the farm’s cattle will overwinter. Philo Ridge farmers led carrot harvesting and pig feeding adventures, and families enjoyed music by Julia Wayne and Katie Trautz of the local Americana band, Mayfly.

Philo Ridge wasn’t the only farm in town hosting visitors during Open Farm Week. Neighbors at Trillium Hill Farm hosted the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont’s mobile pizza oven for a harvest party, Last Resort Farm hosted a garlic-braiding workshop, and Maple Wind Farm fried up their delicious chickens for a casual on-farm meal.

While Open Farm Week ended officially Aug. 20, Philo Ridge Farm looks forward to continually welcoming guests to the farm through school visits, pasture walks and its farm Market.