Windmist Farm in Jamestown, RI chemical-free
Some of what we grow is available year-round.
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For Businesses and Institutional customers:
Grass fed beef, pork, lamb and chicken available as individual cuts in cryovac packages, also fresh eggs. Fresh veggies in season.Sold Fridays 1-6, Saturdays 10-4 and Sundays 11-4 from the farm--or call and leave a message or e-mail and we will get back to you!
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Jamestown, RI - From the moment you step on the farm and are greeted by Barley the Border Collie to the moment you take your first bite of pasture-raised beef, lamb, chicken, pork, or goat, you can tell that Windmist Farm focuses on naturally raising the finest animals. However, Windmist is about more than natural animal pasturing, but also diversity, preservation of historic farmland, and finding the right animals to fit the landscape and the climate. The farm’s green, lush pasture slopes downhill from Weeden lane towards the Jamestown Marsh on the east side of North road in Jamestown, covering 40 acres and being comprised of numerous pastures, farmhouses, wintering pens, a pond, and a small orchard.
George and Martha Neale have been working the quaint piece of land beneath the Newport Bridge for years, although the bridge has not always been there. George’s father purchased the farm in 1963 for horses and has kept cows on the farm since his childhood. On a brisk, windy April afternoon, I met Martha and Tratorria Simpatico Executive Chef Chris Carruba for a tour of the farm. Spring was in full swing at the farm, in the form of two-day old kids and lambs, and this year's crop of two-week old piglets.
Martha’s unceasing passion for what she's doing is very easy to notice. As she said, she was "living the dream" and "grateful to be doing what she was doing," and it shows. The Neale's passion for raising healthy, natural animals manifests in their diverse farm, which includes cattle, two varieties of chicken, two varieties of goats, sheep, pigs, and turkeys. Martha was raised on a dairy farm and did not develop an interest in the repetition of milking twice a day, every day that she saw her father do. None of the animals at Windmist are raised for dairy and that allows the farm the freedom to raise a larger variety of animals than a dairy farm typically does.
Of all the animals on the farm, the most iconic image of Windmist is the "Oreo" cow, Belted Galloways that George first yearned to raise in the early 90s. "Belties" are a variety native to Scotland, a leaner, more resilient animal that is adapted to eating grass, as opposed to the corn-fed breeds raised in commercial operations. They are more suited to New England's climate and subsist on the grassy pastures at Windmist. Driving past the farm on North Road a single, lone cow can often be seen out in the green pasture nearest the road. Visitors often ask why this cow is alone and the simple answer is that he can get under the fence and enjoy the taller, greener grasses that the other cows have not been grazing.
Windmist's menagerie of animals extends well beyond beef cattle. Red Star and Americuana chickens are raised for both meat and eggs, with the farm’s current stock providing up to 200 eggs a week. Laying hens find home in sheds built on trailers, which, in combination with the use of “electro-netting” a movable, electric fence, makes the process of rotation easier and quicker. Much like the chickens and the cows, lambs, goats, and pigs are also raised in a rotational pasturing method. During my visit, freshly processed lamb had just come back in stock in time for Easter, including some stunning-looking legs of lamb. The sheep are known as Katahdin, named after the famous mount in Maine, and are well adapted to the regional climate and have done well on the farm.
A lack of meat processing facilities has long been a bane of small farmer’s in the region. Thanks, however, to the Rhode Island Raised Livestock Association, Windmist is now able have their animals slaughtered in Johnston and butchered in Westerly. Still, these trips add miles, time, and expense to the farm’s effort to provide pasture-fed, locally-raised meat for the region. Last fall they installed two walk-in coolers for their chickens, and are currently in the process of framing-in a chicken processing room that will allow them to process chickens on site, increasing production and providing for a fresher product. At the moment, they take advantage of their neighbor, Pat's Pastured roving chicken processing trailer. Chef Chris Carruba was particularly excited at the prospect of more fresh chicken on the island, as free-range chicken is a popular menu item.
Martha and George work hard to find and raise animals that fit with the Jamestown’s landscape and climate. This effort shows in how both the animals, such as the Belted Galloway cattle and Katahdin Sheep, and the land respond. George has been working on recovering pastures across the street at the Hodgkes farm by harrowing. However, last year, he learned that the pigs they rotated through older pastures did a better job of removing roots than he could in the areas he harrowed with equipment. The process of choosing goats for the farm has been more troublesome, as the first variety they selected, Boers from South Africa, have had trouble with parasites and are not well-adapted to the available forage. Recently, Martha has selected Kiko goats, an American breed that will hopefully be better suited to Windmist’s environment.
The opportunity to raise such a diverse set of animals in Jamestown is thanks to the effort of Jamestown’s citizens in helping to forever preserve the land for agriculture by acquiring the land and committing it to a land trust. With help from other agencies, such as state and federal governments, the Champlin Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy the land trust was secured in 2007. This means a lot to Martha especially, whose family dairy farm was sold and eventually developed. Fortunately, Windmist Farm will no longer be susceptible to such a fate. The farm was also awarded the 2005 Conservation Farm of the Year in the Eastern RI Conservation district and maintains a buffer between the farm and the picturesque Jamestown Marsh to the south.
At the farm, freezers are stocked with all the meat raised on the farm, as well as sausages using their meat that are smoked and cured Noack's in Meriden, Connecticut. Seasonally, cider and turkeys are available and with so much passion for what she does, Martha's always on the hunt for the next new thing to try raising, such as bees and strawberries, so the list of products is likely to grow.