College of the Atlantic’s Peggy Rockefeller Farms (PRF) are part of the largest remaining contiguous area of historic farmland on Mount Desert Island. PRF manages 45 acres of organic farmland, certified by MOFGA, and raises certified organic fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, broilers, turkeys, pasture and hay, as well as pasture-based beef and lamb.
David Rockefeller, Sr., made a generous gift of the PRF to COA in January 2010, to be used in perpetuity for agriculture and conservation. The gift of the farms was accompanied by an endowment to help cover costs of management, maintenance and repairs.
The farm encompasses 125 acres of historic farmland with roughly two-thirds of the property covered in second-growth forest or wetland. Acadia National Park administers conservation easements on the entire property. The farm lies within the Northeast Creek Watershed, which is monitored closely by the US Geological Survey for nutrient loading.
PRF focuses on the production of pastured livestock products, raising grass-based beef and lamb, as well as certified organic pastured poultry. Currently, the farm has a flock of 25 Romney sheep that are bred and raised for meat and wool, a small herd of 5 Belted Galloway cattle that are bred and raised for beef, and a flock of 75 Rhode Island Red and Black Australorp laying hens. Seasonally, PRFs raises over 400 organic broilers, as well as 100 organic turkeys for the Thanksgiving market.
In addition to livestock, PRF also cultivates a mixture of certified organic fruits, berries, vegetables and mushrooms. Their half-acre garden plot grows a rotating mixture of long season vegetable crops for storage, as well as Sparkle strawberries and two rows of dwarf apple trees, representing over two dozen apple varieties. Off in the field, their heritage apple orchard contains 25 unique Maine varieties on standard rootstock, including Addison Ancient, Orland Town Office and Captain Zero. In the backyard of the 1930s farmhouse are a few peach trees and a raspberry patch, and behind the sheep barn, oyster mushrooms inoculated in poplar logs grow in the shade of the coniferous forest edge.