About Us

The Farm

As idealistic, first-generation farmers, we strive to make the world a better place by showing that if animals are raised in certain ways, meat and eggs can be an ethical, humane, and sustainable (not to mention truly delicious) part of our diets. Our foundational commitment as a burgeoning farm and business was to prioritize full-circle sustainability and flavor, then build accordingly. We have developed a pasture-based, intensively managed rotational grazing farm where we raise:

  • Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Grass Fed goats
  • Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Grass Fed sheep
  • Animal Welfare Approved, corn-free, soy-free, non-GMO, and organically-fed pigs
  • Animal Welfare Approved, corn-free, soy-free, non-GMO, and organically-fed laying hens
  • ​bees!

Livestock Management

piglets nursing on pasture

Our animals live on pasture all year long and are never confined. They graze and forage as long as each season permits then move to pasture winter paddocks. The animals move between 43 paddocks inside of our perimeter fence that encloses 20 acres of pasture and transitional silvopasture

Groups of animals move to new paddocks, along with their supporting waterers, feed bowls, mineral feeders, and shelters. The groups spend 1-10 days in a paddock depending on paddock size, season, pasture quality, group size, weather (past, current, and anticipated), and time.            

  • The sheep tend to graze (eat low-growing grass and keep their heads down).
  • The goats prefer to browse (eat medium-height shrubby and woodier things with their heads held at the height of their bodies).
  • A  pod of pigs will rampage through, foraging and rooting (using their powerful snouts to unearth roots, grubs, nuts, and seeds).
  • Chickens follow to scratch and peck around, disrupting the manure left by the previous groups and feasting on all the bugs, worms, ticks, parasites, and mice they can locate (chickens are so not vegetarians).
  • Meanwhile, the bees are busy pollinating plants, trees, flowers and grasses, not only here on the farm, but everywhere else in the neighborhood, too. As an added bonus they make the chestnut trees buzz beautifully at the height of summer.

To support all this moving around, we permanently fenced 21 paddocks and use portable fence to subdivide the rest of the area (typically 22 additional paddocks), all inside our 20 acre perimeter fence.

Regenerative Farming

We raise heritage breed animals who have the genetics and instincts to thrive on our pasture-based farm, plus have the hardiness and flexibility to adjust to the New England climate of hot summers and cold winters. Our animals breed according to their natural cycles and birth unassisted on pasture and, mostly adorably, they have the room to explore and interact with their surroundings (the best is each spring when the nanny goats teach the kids to climb). Rotationally grazed animals improve the quality and fertility of the land, not to mention their meat tastes exceptional!

Regenerative Farming

We raise heritage breed animals who have the genetics and instincts to thrive on our pasture-based farm, plus have the hardiness and flexibility to adjust to the New England climate of hot summers and cold winters. Our animals breed according to their natural cycles and birth unassisted on pasture and, mostly adorably, they have the room to explore and interact with their surroundings (the best is each spring when the nanny goats teach the kids to climb). Rotationally grazed animals improve the quality and fertility of the land, not to mention their meat tastes exceptional!

Meet The Farmers

Nick Weinstock

nick weinstock with horns 1

The Builder

Nick and his family have a productive history as small business owners, investors, and planners.  After getting his construction management degree from Michigan State University in 2009, Nick returned to join the family construction company fulltime as a general contractor and supervisor. This work involved overseeing construction projects from their inception to the last sweeping up after construction is complete. It required highly developed contracting, scheduling, and negotiating skills. The general contractor is responsible for coordinating workflow between tenants, land owners, building engineers, governmental inspectors, and anyone else with a stake in the project. This work also provided Nick with a keen eye for how to go about repairs, upgrades, and improvements along with a good sense of how much these things cost. Coupled with a working knowledge of most construction trades, this provides a valuable asset on a working farm. Starting in 2013 Nick interned on a sustainable livestock farm in New Jersey gaining invaluable knowledge. Nick is not only handy in the sense of being able to fix things, but in being young-ish while already having many years of experience in running a business, building and maintaining customer relationships, and long-term financial planning. Nick is pleased to be a full-time farmer at BOTL Farm, referred to as the ‘Primary Farmer.’

Danielle Larese

danielle larese castle 1

The Scientist

Danielle is a science dork from way back: after getting degrees in chemical physics and mathematics from Michigan State University, she went on to graduate school in theoretical molecular physics at Yale University. After finishing her PhD in 2013 she traveled the world, visiting farms in India, Ecuador, Costa Rica, England, Wales, Hawaii, and other places. After 1.5 years of that delightful lifestyle, it became necessary to be employed, so she began a post-graduate fellowship doing computational modeling on food safety in the event of a nuclear accident. In 2018 she transitioned to a career civil servant position in the federal government working as a scientific coordinator and overseeing research coordination. Her education and scientific training make her an astounding resource on the farm, where she can sift through scientific literature and make science-based decisions for animal and farm management. However, since she works full-time off the farm she is referred to as the ‘Secondary Farmer.’

Pup

pup with bee sting

The Dog

Pup joined the farm in 2017. She is a mix of Lab, Australian Shepherd, and American Staffordshire Terrier. As a rescue dog who was caught as a young stray, we don’t believe she had any previous farm-dog experience, so she’s learned on the job. Although we had looked forward to her growing up enough (and maybe graduating to the name “Dog”) to stop fighting bees, it didn’t work out. She rarely wins. See the picture of her fat lip. Despite her tumultuous relationship with bees, Pup has basically the best dog life ever. Her days are spent on the farm with Primary Farmer, where she does extremely important work like barking at hawks, eating all the mice in the barn, cleaning pig snouts using her tongue, and generally keeping all the animals in line. The farm wouldn’t be the same without her!

The Farm’s Backstory

Danielle has always been a food-motivated animal, spending at least 80% of her waking hours thinking about food, where to get it, how to cook it, and the ethics thereof. Starting in high school and extending into college, she was vegetarian for about five years because she was unhappy about the treatment of industrially farmed animals but didn’t have the resources to find and patronize local, humane farmers. We met in college (meaning Danielle and Nick, not Pup, she wasn’t born yet) and bonded over shared interests in food, cooking, and rock climbing. Danielle’s reluctant vegetarianism was a big part of our journey to the humane livestock farmers we are today, since we decided that if we’re going to eat the most-humanely raised and most-delicious meat, we’d better just do it ourselves.

We are both first-generation farmers, and the decision to start farming snuck up on us, as big decisions sometimes do. Nick was taking over the family business of construction project management while Danielle was finishing grad school and establishing herself as a career government scientist when we met the farmer who would change our lives, our farming mentor. She accepted our clumsy offers of free labor on her farm and in return, taught us invaluable lessons about the reality and the infrastructure of raising animals on pasture. We worked with her for several years and then decided to take the plunge ourselves and start farming. The day Nick officially quit his day job in order to begin farming full-time was terrifying, but we suspected it’d be easier to build a farm while we’re in our 30s instead of waiting until our 50s or 60s.

rabbits on pasture 1

In 2015 we committed, to ourselves and to our rather dubious families, that we would start a farm. Land searches and land acquisition, especially for farm land, are long, tortuous processes but we were alight with enthusiasm. The obvious answer was to get our feet wet by acquiring a few livestock and keeping them in Nick’s backyard on his 0.49 acre lot in a small town in New Jersey. Backyard chickens weren’t quite the thing way back then so we instead chose rabbits. Unlike chickens, rabbits are scrupulously clean and quiet, so they were a much better choice since Nick’s house was 6’ away from the neighbors’ houses. During this phase we did other foolish things like install two beehives on a second floor balcony where Danielle lived in downtown New Haven, Connecticut. 

The focus of our land search was Connecticut. We’d fallen in love with the quirky community of farmers, farmers market managers, chefs, bartenders, mixologists, and other foodies in and around New Haven, so we had three main requirements for our future farm: we had to be able to “afford” it, it had to be as close to New Haven as possible, and it had to be at least 40 acres in size.

bee hives new haven balcony

In late 2016 our land search was over and we had ‘bought the farm’ aka purchased 41 acres of overgrown, fallow land with a house built in 1820 located in Ashford, Connecticut, affectionately known as the ‘quiet corner’ of Connecticut. Ashford is nowhere near New Haven, but whatever, it was closest we could afford. In separate but equally frightening trips, we moved our rabbits and beehives up to the new farm, along with our personal possessions and an absurdly large number of other things, some of which we definitely don’t still fight about. That said, bootstrapping a 41-acre farm requires lots and lots of equipment.

clothesline sunset

2017 and 2018 marked the beginning of establishing our permanent farm. This involved two large infrastructure projects, installing a mile of physical/electric perimeter fence and building a barn. We also welcomed our first flock of chickens to the farm, followed by our first goats, then our first flock of sheep, and finally our first pod of pigs

To hear even more of the story about why we became farmers, listen to this podcast.

fencing panels carried by tractor 1

To learn more about our latest bad ideas, see our blog, and to learn what we’re selling now, visit our online store.

Page Last Updated on 2024-01-22

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