by Crystal Sands
When you first meet Farmer Kristin Beauchamp of Lone Spruce Farm in Dedham, Maine, you can see that she exudes a love of the land and a love for farming education. The aura of joy, peace, and perseverance is almost visible, and her energy is inspiring.
The first time I spoke to Farmer Kristin (as she is known in our house) for an extended length of time, she invited me into her beautiful 1800s farmhouse. I adored her home. It was beautiful but real, photogenic but functional. And then I saw her dining room table. This dining room table was a sight to behold.
It’s a massive, old table. It must seat at least 8 to 10 people. It’s rustic and heavy and sturdy. The wood is uneven, almost lumpy, and full of history. I sat at the table and ran my fingers over the uneven textures of the wood.
“I love your table,” I told her.
She seemed pleased and told me the table was very important to her. When she and her family moved to Maine from New Jersey, the house they bought in Maine had to have a dining room big enough to fit her table. Her husband, Tom, was tasked with this quest in Maine while she stayed with the children in New Jersey.
Tom succeeded. Not only did the dining room accommodate the massive table, the old farmhouse looked like it was built for that table—and Kristin too. In time, I would come to understand just how much that beautiful, welcoming table represented all things Farmer Kristin and the energy she puts into her farm—and the world.
I asked Kristin about what inspired her to become a farmer, and she explained the answer is multifaceted. When their family lived in New Jersey, they were homesteaders. Kristin said she “always had a connection to plants and animals.” But her desire to farm on a larger scale came out of a need to feed her family differently—better.
This is a common motivation many new farmers share, but the way she feeds her family is even more critical to Kristin; Kristin’s son has a rare seizure disorder and specific dietary needs. The food raised at Lone Spruce Farm literally saves their son. Kristin’s little boy, who is now 10, went from having approximately 200 seizures a day to almost no seizures each day, and, in part, it’s the food from their family’s farm that saved him.
Kristin’s desire to feed her family grew into a desire to feed other people too—and to educate—to show others what good, homegrown food tastes like and where that good food comes from.
At Lone Spruce Farm, Farmer Kristin mainly runs the farm, as Tom works a full-time job outside of the farm, but together, they raise goats and have become licensed for dairy, raw milk, and chevre. The dairy is a huge component of their son’s dietary therapy but is also an important way they work to feed the community. Kristin said that the goats have become a critical part of their farming and has united her family. Even though Tom works outside of the farm, he loves the goats, and they “tied Tom to the land.”
Farmer Kristin raises more than goats, and as we discussed all of her efforts, I was in awe of all that she grows and raises. Kristin also raises–and then sells in her farm store–herbs, edible flowers, medicinal herbs, vegetables (she’s especially into heritage potatoes right now), and Kristin bakes a wide variety of breads. She raises chickens for eggs to sell, and she raises meat birds for her own family. On the farm, they also keep ducks for insect patrol, rabbits for friends, geese for friends, and Lulu the pig, who is also a friend.
Lulu lives with the goats and is the sweetest friend to the family. Lulu was purchased by Kristin’s two young children who rolled all of the coins in the house to collect enough money to buy Lulu themselves.
One important project Kristin runs through her farm is a weather station for the National Weather Service. “The National Weather Service was born for agriculture through the need to create better reporting for farmers raising crops.” So Farmer Kristin has taken up the torch and, each day, uses social media to report the weather. Kristin’s reporting is just another of many services she provides to the community, as she is also deeply involved with 4-H and community education. She emphasizes the need for farmers to report to each other, learn from each other.
In fact, during our conversation, Farmer Kristin and I fell into telling each other farm stories. “We need to start writing each other,” she said. “And I’m serious. I had the plan to start writing handwritten letters to my neighbor farmer about what is happening on our farm and how we are dealing with the weather,” she explained.
This spoke to me, and after we shared our farmer stories of dealing with the drought that lasted many months here in Maine, we both agreed that we needed to get farmers to do more of this, and the Farmer Letter-Writing Project was born.
I asked Kristin about the best part about what she does, and she said there are many. She gets to feed her family. She gets to feed her community. But the rewards are also personal and spiritual.
“When I am working, I feel a really deep, low hum in my system; it’s a soothing reverberation though myself and my body, a quietness within the chaos and loss of life,” she said. She explains that the farm keeps her going, even during tough times. “The world feels so heavy that you don’t want to get up at times, but when you have farm animals depending on you, you have to keep getting up.”
Kristin also emphasizes that farming is an opportunity many do not have the resources for. While much of the farm grew out of the needs for treating her son’s disorder, it is also about giving back to the Earth and back to the community, about “feeling the ripples” of the good you are doing.
Of course, there are many difficult aspects of farming. In addition to facing issues of weather, such as the drought in Maine in 2020, there are issues of loss that every farmer must face. Death is an important part of life, but “we grieve for and with our animals,” she said.
She told me the story of the time she had two stillborn goats on the farm. The mama goat cried and cried and cleaned her babies, but they were dead. Kristin cried with the mama goat. The experience reminded her of own loss of a pregnancy, a phenomenon many women who farm report and one I wrote about in my personal essay for our Fall issue. The connections women farmers sometimes feel with their animals, with the mamas on their farms especially, is unique and powerful.
Kristin said the mama goat was in deep mourning, so Kristin left the babies with her overnight. When she came out to check on them in the morning, the mama goat had buried her babies in the hay.
But, Kristin says, for better or worse (sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes it’s not), she is able to compartmentalize these kinds of losses. “I don’t pick them up and carry them around with me,” she said.
You really just can’t.
Our discussion of loss led me to a question about what advice she would give to someone thinking of starting up a farm. She said it’s important to familiarize yourself with loss—not just death on the farm, but loss of crops, loss of money. “Be okay with running low on money and being high on faith in what you are doing.”
Importantly, she offered this powerful advice: “Be quiet with your space; observe the gaps in your community and the gaps within yourself; try to build a farm that fills those gaps.”
She continued, “Find a place of peace in what you are doing, talk to older generations, and keep a journal.” One of my favorite things I gleaned from my conversation with Farmer Kristin was how important writing is to the job of a farmer. I came away from our conversation feeling like Farmer-ish was filling some gaps.
Social media is also an important part of marketing farm goods these days, but Farmer Kristin’s social media is unique compared to many farm pages I follow. There is a kindness, a peacefulness, and a reminder to be joyful that comes through on Lone Spruce Farm’s social media. “I hope it’s not tone deaf, but I try to convey positivity and hope. I try to convey my thankfulness…My place is to connect with people, to remind them to go out and enjoy nature.” She said she is thankful for the opportunity to help bring light to others.
And this brings me back to Kristin’s table.
During our conversation, I heard the back story on the magnificent farmhouse table. Kristin found the table in an antique shop in New Jersey. The table spoke to her deeply, but it was expensive, too expensive for her. For some reason, she decided to write the seller and explain her connection to and love for the table. Miraculously, the seller was moving her shop and couldn’t take the massive table with her.
“I got the table for almost nothing,” Kristin said. But there was more to the story. A large group of people had to come together to get this table to Kristin’s house, driving for hours and moving a large table to her dining room.
It’s like that beautiful table, which symbolizes openness and giving in its perfectly imperfect way, was a gift from the universe to Kristin. And Kristin works every day to give back.
Because Farmer Kristin, whether she knows it or not (though I think she has some understanding), is a gift to the universe for many.
You can find Kristin’s Facebook page for Lone Spruce Farm here or her Instagram account here. And, if you live in Maine or are visiting in the summer, look for Lone Spruce Farm’s farm shop in Dedham. On any given day, you will find breads, chevre, goat milk, eggs, and the most beautiful cut flowers in the world.