Farm Tour: A Visit to Owl Wood Farm

Board member, David Bayne, took a ride ( a bike ride, that is!) up to Owl Wood Farm in Salem, NY. This is what he learned about the operations at Mark and Lindsay's farm.

"...When the Co-op Manager asked me to visit Owl Wood Farm, I was more excited about riding my bike to get there than actually meeting Lindsay Fisk and Mark Bascom who run the place. Foolish me. They are great people, and their farm is a destination in itself..." ~ David B.

Mark Bascom (pictured above) and Lindsay Fisk are the owners of beautiful Owl Wood Farm. They grow the most beautiful vegetables on a plot of land several hundred yards up from Rexleigh Covered Bridge and the Battenkill River.



David's Experience at Owl Wood Farm


Frankly when the Co-op Manager asked me to visit Owl Wood Farm, I was more excited about riding my bike to get there than actually meeting Lindsay Fisk and Mark Bascom who run the place. Foolish me. They are great people, and their farm is a destination in itself, regardless of how you get there. A lot of us have backyard gardens and hobby farms, so we might think we know what to expect at Owl Wood – and we would be right. It is familiar with rows of green and hoop houses scattered around.

But some of the steps that we don’t notice so much at home become truly exciting on their scale. Start with a head of lettuce that you just picked. No big deal, you bring it in and wash it off in the kitchen sink and chomp away. But if you take bushels of lettuce to four different farmer’s markets, then washing becomes industrial. They have a designated area with a 4 x 4 grid of hardware cloth to shake off loose dirt, which I assume goes back to the garden. Then the lettuce is dipped in three deep stainless steel baths of sparkling water to get rid of the last of the grit. The piece de resistance though is the Whirlpool washing machine that humbly works as a giant salad spinner. Their lettuce comes out better than my shirts.

Another thrill was how straight their rows were. Although not a BIG concern of mine, I have used string and pegs to layout my rows, so I assumed that’s what they did even though their rows were a lot longer than mine. When I asked, Lindsay giggled. I’m a silly boy. You get better-than-string after using your eye for the miles of rows that they have laid out.

In preparing for visiting I figured a question about soil was appropriate. It is a farm after all, and I know that I shouldn’t use the word “dirt”. I had noticed that their farm was just by the Battenkill River. Mark didn’t disappoint me and explained that they grow on Hoosic gravelly loam. The new part for me was that he said that if you look at an agriculture map, the outline of Cambridge traces the deposits of Hoosic gravelly loam. The other soil type they have is Bernardston, which I gather is better for trees and orchards than for lettuce. It would be fun to have Mark explain the soil types and the town’s settlement patterns at some future Co-op event.

Besides feeding us, Mark and Lindsay also support the local economy by hosting two interns. They provide housing and a bit of money for Tido and Brittany. This is an aspect of Owl Wood that my home garden doesn’t share, but is a continuation of their own training. Mark and Lindsay learned organic gardening by doing internships at four different farms: two in the lower Hudson Valley and two over by the seacoast in New Hampshire. The internships are coordinated by A.T.T.R.A which is best left an acronym. It sounds good and you might bet that one of those A’s is Agriculture and the other is Association. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. Owl Wood is therefore giving back by training new farmers for us all.


So rest assured that Owl Wood Farm produces all the goodness that you expect at the Co-op. Step up to the Co-op cooler or their Cambridge Farmer’s Market booth for some of their good stuff. But if you want to go to more trouble (and who doesn’t?) I’d recommend biking west out of the village on 372. Take a right on County Route 62 and then straight up the hill on Reafield Farm Road. For the thrill of the day, go as fast as you possibly can down Scotch Hill Road before crossing over Route 22 onto Rexleigh Road. Owl Wood Farm is at the bottom of the hill just before the covered bridge. Go for it!


(All images are from Owl Wood Farm's website: https://owlwood.weebly.com/)



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