It is what the Italians refer to as “campanilisimo”, that sense of place, of belonging to something greater than ourselves that one feels on this farm. The earliest humans had a fundamental understanding of the power of the sun and the length of the day’s impact on what and where they grew. They looked to the heavens for inspiration and knowledge. When Orion appeared they knew winter was on its way. This understanding is the source of many of the traditions and celebrations that we still observe and honor today. As modern farmers we may have more tools in our toolbox than these ancestors but we pay as close attention to the rhythms and cycle of the earth, sun, moon, stars and planets as they did and seek to understand the subtle ways that the environment and wider cosmos influence the growth and development of all life on our farm. Our crop planning calendars take into account this awareness and understanding by providing detailed astronomical information and indications of optimal times for sowing, transplanting, cultivating and harvesting.

As a high functioning, working organic farm we are fortunate to be located within the most temperate zone of the climate common to southeastern New Hampshire. Nestled within the Merrimac River Valley we have abundant rainfall for our crops and generally milder winters. We are also the area to see the first frost later (on average between October 11-20) and the last frost earlier (May 11-20) than the rest of New Hampshire. This allows us to be very creative in extending our outdoor growing season. We have also been blessed with exceptional soil and, through our greenhouses, have the ability to grow all year long.

“Take it for what its worth from me, I’d farm for sky and scenery.”

-Harry Elmore Hurd


Spring at Sweethill FarmOur Spring starts in early February when the sun grows stronger, the days grow longer than 10 hours and Persephone returns to Demeter from the underworld. It is a time of great awakening on the farm. We see direct evidence of increased growth in our greenhouses and this is when we begin planting our early season greenhouse crops. The Algonquin Indian tribes that roamed freely over these lands prior to European settlement named the different full moons according to life around them. We honor those names today and the Snow Moon illuminates an abundance of farm activity well into the chilly February evenings. Come early March the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants are transplanted in the greenhouse. Cucumbers will soon follow. By the time we arrive at the Vernal Equinox day length has increased to 12 hours and all our greenhouses are teeming with life as much of what we grow for late spring and early summer will have been seeded and/or planted.

We enjoy much on this farm but not much rivals our love of growing. The simple act of gathering raw materials and helping to awaken a seed or a plug so it sprouts and then caring not only for it but, about it (which is infinitely more challenging) is beyond satisfying. As a general rule if you purchase a live good here we grew it. In the rare cases we did not (i.e potatoes) we tell you and in virtually all cases it will come from a New England farm. If we are fortunate to have a sunny April we are treated to a spectacle of brilliant blooms from our spring annuals and perennials.

We are avid sky watchers and while the days on the farm are beautiful the nights can be spectacular. Ursa Major (the Big Dipper) highlights the Spring night sky and from it you can easily locate the constellations of Gemini (February), Cancer (March) and Leo (April). The best shot at a Spring meteor shower (with cooperating weather and a dim moon) are the Lyrids which peak the last part of April.

“There is a re-creative grace for me. In earth new-turned for early sowing: Much promise in a south wind blowing, A green delight in any flowering tree.”

Harry Elmore Hurd


Summer at Sweethill FarmOur Summer starts May 1st, as we see our orchards and pastures in bloom, the garlic is up and our hops have begun their rapid climb up the coir twine. May is our busiest planting month as everything we will harvest throughout the summer must be in the ground either in the fields or the two greenhouses we use throughout the summer. May brings the Flower Moon and is the busiest month for our spring ornamentals and by mid-month everything we grow is in full bloom. By months end we are harvesting cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers. Our winter greenhouses are put to rest as we use the sun to help sterilize the soil until we replenish soil nutrients and plant again in late August.

We start planting our sweet corn in early May and by months end we have finished. We generally plant a variety of cultivars to ensure we have a crop throughout the summer. In 2020 we did not plant corn as we needed to renovate that area of our fields to increase fertility, reduce weed and other pest pressures that had begun to negatively impact the quality of our corn. One certainty on this farm is if we don’t like the quality of what we grow we will not sell it. If that means we stop growing until we figure things out, so be it. June and July are our busiest months in terms of overall activity as virtually everything we grow is in ground requiring frequent attention. We continue planting all through summer rarely leaving any of our plots bare. By the Summer Solstice our early crops have been harvested and are in our market.

We have used 2020 as the year we begin to implement our vision, which is to make this a vibrant, organic and economically viable farm that will last long beyond our occupancy. In early May we planted our hop field with 7 varieties of hops chosen for the beers we plan on brewing. We will not see a harvestable crop until 2022. Much like restaurant kitchens are designed around their menus we designed our hop field based upon the beers we intend to brew in our brewery. We planted a combination of 80 apple, pear, cherry, plum, peach and apricot trees in our new orchard. We planted our berry fields in the summer of 2020 recognizing we would not see a harvestable crop for strawberries and elderberries until 2021 and summer 2022 for blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. We also planted perennial rhubarb and asparagus and should see a harvestable crop of both in 2021. While we will certainly offer all of these through our CSA and farm market they will also provide us the opportunity to create unique menu offerings in our to be farm-to table restaurant. Farmers and farms in general think long-term and we routinely invest resources today that we hope we will reap the benefit from well into the future. You need to be patient if you want to farm well.

Summer evenings are a great time to visit the farm. The fireflies on a warm July evening hovering over the fields just at the gloaming are a truly wonderful sight. The Summer Triangle dominates the summer night sky and from it you can easily locate the constellations of Virgo (May), Hercules, and Scorpius (July). The best time for observing Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper) is during June. The best shot at an interesting summer meteor shower, which produces bright fireballs, are the Alpha Capricornids which peak at the end of July.

“Fragrance of newmown hay may be Sweet as roses……sharp as a thorn. For keen and sweet is memory Of things loved……of things gone…”

Harry Elmore Hurd


Autumn at Sweethill FarmOur Autumn starts in early August, as with the months of September and October fully 70% of what we have grown must be harvested before the first frost. Come September 1st, other than garlic, nothing more will be planted in the fields until the following May. We again begin planting in our greenhouses for the upcoming fall and winter. We focus our so-called cold growing on root vegetables, onions, lettuce and leafy greens, as we know from experience they thrive in our cool greenhouses throughout the winter. These crops we can grow all winter long in our greenhouses, which are only heated to prevent freezing.

Beginning in late August you will find our field of chrysanthemums just starting to bloom. Their bushel-basket size and huge array of colors astound our customers every year. In addition to mums you will find hardy asters, ornamental kale, and a wide variety of fall annual and perennial mixes for sale. Fall ornamental growing for us is something we mostly do because we enjoy it.

We practice a broad based cover crop philosophy and do not believe in leaving any of our plots bare. As we harvest the last crops of the season we immediately plant a cover crop, which can over winter and becomes the basis of next spring’s nutrient add when plowed under and incorporated into the soil. Depending upon our needs, which can vary from plot to plot and year to year we plant a mix of field peas, oats, hairy vetch, winter rye, buckwheat and white clover.

The full moon closest to the Autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon. It is generally in September and is also called the Corn Moon. Every three years the Harvest Moon falls into October whose moon is normally the Hunters Moon. Whatever the name the September and October full moons are perhaps the prettiest as they frame both the beginning and the end of our harvest. In the autumn evenings we look for the Great Square in the skies above the farm. From it we can locate Andromeda, Cassiopeia and Pegasus. In early to mid August we always make the time to take a break, find a comfortable chair and perhaps a frosty beverage to watch the Perseid meteor shower splatter the sky with their long tails coming out of constellation Perseus.

“All that was summer is gold and rust: Rust and gold and potential dust….. All of the glory of ash and oak Yields its green to flame and smoke…”

Harry Elmore Hurd


Winter at Sweet Hill FarmsOur year both ends and begins in Winter. Once the air chills and the day length drops below 10 hours in early November signaling Persephone’s return to Hades we have generally put away the field harvest, planted all of our winter greenhouses and have begun trimming out the Farm for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We plant our garlic in mid November and harvest it the following June.

There is perhaps no prettier time to be on our farm than during this time. Seeing the Cold Moon rise above the farm’s snow covered fields with Orion, the great hunter, marching across the night sky is not a sight one easily forgets. Winter is a great time to sky watch from the farm as the Leonids arrive in mid November and the Geminids pay us a visit in early December. It is the strongest meteor shower of the year and, weather permitting; the view from the farm is spectacular. From Orion you can easily locate his dogs (Canis Major and Canis Minor) and his quarry Taurus.

By the Winter Solstice day length is at its lowest point and you are likely to see lighting in the greenhouses during the late afternoon and early evening as we try to stretch every bit of growth we can. There is something comforting about visiting a farm at Christmas and we go to great lengths to show our appreciation to all who stop by. Santa makes an annual visit in early December to the delight of many.

We have barely have time to catch our breath and decompress from the holidays when come early January we have all the winter greenhouses in full production, have sown the summer greenhouse tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplants and have begun planting our spring ornamentals. A farm year starts early and ends late!

One of the more pleasant parts of owning this farm is experiencing how it reveals its beauty in so many ways each day and throughout the seasons. Lu Goudreault eloquently captured so much of that beauty in her Gardeners Chronicles that she penned each spring over 20 years, which we have made available here[LINK].

“And soon Orion with one knee on the edge Of space will lift above the tree-spiked edge Of Vision with Winter following close behind Well let winter come……let it find Us equal to the test of ice and snow……”

Harry Elmore Hurd

One of the more pleasant parts of owning this farm is experiencing how it reveals its beauty in so many ways each day and throughout the seasons. Lu Goudreault eloquently captured so much of that beauty in her Gardeners Chronicles that she penned each spring over 20 years, which we have made available here[LINK].

“When you work close to the land, you become closer to God. The good things that happen to us here on this farm are unbelievable.”

Lu Goudreault