Tuesday, December 31, 2013

BEST OF 2013: Aldermere Farm and The Belted Galloway


Ask any local in Rockport or Camden where the "Belties" are, and they’ll point you to Aldermere Farm, long one of the area’s popular attractions, especially for kids longing for a look at the famous black and white colored "Oreo cookie" cows. But the Belted Galloways grazing in Aldermere’s green pastures aren’t just for decoration. Aldermere Belties are known to breeders around the world as some of the finest stock anywhere.

Bred primarily for beef, Belties originated in the mountains of Southwest Scotland--an area once called the province of Galloway. In this cold, damp, and rugged country, the Galloways bred by the Scots became an exceptionally hardy breed, adapting to the severe conditions. In winter they grow a shaggy overcoat which, in combination with the soft short undercoat, protects them from the cold and damp. Unlike many other breeds, the Belties were able to forage for themselves on the range during the winter. Their development under these conditions made the breed highly resistant to disease and genetic problems.

In 1953 the Aldermere herd of Belted Galloways was established when Mr. Chatfield purchased a bull and six cows from Harry Prock of Pennsylvania. Mr. Chatfield subsequently brought more stock to the farm from Scotland. Between 1955 and 1972, he imported Lullenden Irene and Lullenden Arigusta from the Ian Hamilton herd, along with the bull Mochrum Orion which replaced first herd sire Aldermere Hapwood Dandie. In 1960 Burnside Great Scot, Supreme Belted Galloway in Scotland, was imported. In 1966 he bought two heifers from the Whittingehame herd at East Lothian, noting that the dam which produced these heifers, Whittingehame Serena Neilson, was the largest Beltie cow he had ever seen, weighing 1600 lbs.

Over the years the Chatfields and long-time Farm Manager Dwight Howard worked together to develop one of the premier herds of Belted Galloways in the world. In fairs around the country, Aldermere cattle have been awarded the highest level of recognition of any farm over the last 30 years. Today the Aldermere herd is the oldest continually-operated herd of Belted Galloway cattle in the United States today. Numbers generally range from 75 (winter) to 100 (summer) head.

Aldermere Farm, a landmark of midcoast Maine, is one of the world’s premier breeders of Belted Galloway cattle. The 136-acre farm is owned and managed by Maine Coast Heritage Trust, a statewide land conservation organization dedicated to protecting the scenic beauty, outdoor recreational opportunities, ecological diversity, and working landscapes of the Maine coast. The Trust maintains Aldermere as a working farm and educational center, helping visitors deepen their appreciation for land conservation and sustainable agriculture.

Nestled on the western shore of Penobscot Bay in Rockport, Maine, Aldermere Farm has been an area landmark for generations. Maine Coast Heritage Trust owns and manages this working 136-acre farm thanks to a generous bequest made by the late Albert H. Chatfield, Jr. Aldermere supports a world-renowned herd of Belted Galloway cattle and is permanently protected by conservation easements. MCHT is currently developing long-term stewardship plans.

Aldermere Farm is a traditional New England saltwater farm, with rugged fields, weathered stone walls, a rocky shoreline, and simple yet elegant structures. The farm’s 136 acres include fields, woods, and wetlands, as well as the buildings and grounds.

Although most people associate the farm with the Belties, Aldermere’s famous herd of Belted Galloway cattle, the farm is also a compelling example of progressive agriculture and a caring land ethic. The late Albert Chatfield, Jr. and his wife Marion restored the land with innovative conservation methods and organic agriculture. It was a lifelong task, and the farm’s splendid condition today attests eloquently to the Chatfields’ devotion to the land they dearly loved.

Aldermere’s pastoral vistas and undeveloped shoreline are a prized scenic feature of Rockport and Camden, and will remain so forever thanks to conservation easements Mr. Chatfield placed on the property. Determined to protect the farm from the relentless build-up of Maine’s coast, Mr. Chatfield worked with Maine Coast Heritage Trust to establish protective easements which legally preclude subdivision and development. Aldermere Farm shows how working farms can be an important aspect of conservation and community planning.

From http://www.aldermere.org/index.shtml

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