The Hatch Family, Upinngil Farm
2011 Local Hero Awardee
Organic grains, raw milk, farmstead cheeses, pick-your-own berries, and seasonal vegetables – many components of a healthy, balanced diet are produced on Upinngil Farm’s 120 acres and can be purchased every day of the week at the farm’s on-site store in Gill.
Clifford Hatch started the farm with his wife Patricia Crosby in 1988. Hatch’s family’s farming roots in the Valley go back to the early 17thcentury. His parents were primarily dairy farmers. In the 1960s, when the federal government tightened milk pasteurization regulations, they anticipated challenges ahead for small farms and discouraged Clifford from a life in agriculture.
Diversification has been essential to Upinngil’s success. Strawberries, raspberries, and grapes have been consistently important crops. The dairy operation started because of Hatch’s interest in making cheese, but the popularity of the farm’s raw milk has driven its expansion. Upinngil also grows more than twenty-five acres of wheat, rye, and buckwheat for sale at the farm store and to local businesses, raises grass-fed beef and free-range chickens, and grows a variety of vegetables.
Hatch says that the sustainable, environmentally-sound farming practices utilized at Upinngil Farm are completely in line with his parents’ teachings about farming. Direct sales are another essential element of the farm’s success, allowing the farm to be competitive and derive the true value of their crops. The variety and high quality of Upinngil’s products have made the farm a regular destination for many loyal customers, some of whom travel to Gill from Boston every week or two to fill their trunks.
Hatch’s daughter, Sorrel, and son, Rhys, are integral to Upinngil’s operations. Sorrel graduated from Cornell University and runs the farm’s licensed kitchen. Rhys, who holds a degree in literary arts from Brown, recently finished a post-and-beam barn for the expanding dairy operation. Upinngil’s next generation is introducing new perspectives, interests, and skills, but they share their father’s commitment to provide the community with locally grown food from carefully stewarded land. CISA recognizes Upinngil Farm for providing a viable model of a multi-generational, polycultural farm that emphasizes diversity of products and direct sales to customers.