Wild Shepherd Farm
Summary: Wild Shepherd Farm is a grass based diversified farm in Athens, Vermont run by David Hassan and Emily Amanna. David and Emily are young famers epitomizing the newest generation of the family farm. Wild Shepherd Farm specializes in growing over 30,000 heads of seven varieties of organic (non-certified) hardneck garlic. They additionally specialize in raising grass-fed meat and dairy Dexter cows and East Friesian milking ewes and lambs along with pastured pork. In July of 2012, they completed their ewe-milking parlor producing highly sought after sheep’s milk for sale to local cheese makers. Wild Shepherd Farm produces diverse vegetables, baked goods, pickles and fermented goods, and dried and processed medicinal herbs. Their farm products are sold off the farm at their roadside farm stand, to regular weekly milk customers, at local farmers’ markets, and at regional garlic festivals.
The farm is located on a beautiful 170 acres of pasture and forestland set in a very small rural town. They acquired the farmland through a six-year process with the Vermont Land Trust in a farmland conservation easement allowing Hassan and Amanna to purchase the land at the agricultural value. To purchase the land, they supplemented their personal finances with loans through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation (VACC). They have clear plans and goals for the expansion of their operations to include a cheese house, a sugar house, and a farm store but are currently strapped by the financial gridlock of their debt and operating costs.
History: David and Emily both developed a passion for farming while attending Marlboro College. They apprenticed together on a small Vermont dairy farm and nurtured their love of raising sheep and cheese making. Committed to farming, they both went on to pursue employment in agriculture while developing their dream for their own farm enterprise. The family has been running Wild Shepherd Farm since 2010. Prior to acquiring the land in Athens, their farming was carried out in a variety of locations and forms growing garlic and raising sheep on nearby rented land, living in a small cabin with no electricity or running water. This period exemplifies the sacrifice and dedication embodied by young farmers determined to acquire farmland while upholding their farming practices and ideals
Wild Shepherd Farm’s goals are first and foremost in the maintenance and preservation of their farmland. They are committed to being a small, sustainable operation growing only incrementally over time. They are committed to their livestock practices using seasonal intensive rotational grazing. Their goal is to provide their community with healthy food while using the most natural practices to cultivate and preserve their land. Immersed in the community and culture in and around Brattleboro, they are bolstered and supported by a network of friends, fellow farmers, and customers embracing similar ideals and practices.