Sheep at Peterson Farm

A History of Peterson Farm
Peterson Farm is located just outside of the heart of Falmouth at the intersection of Woods Hole Road and McCallum.  It is one of the oldest farms on Cape Cod dating back to 1679, where for about 300 years the Weeks family raised cattle and sheep. In the mid 1900’s it was sold to Capt. John Peterson, giving the farm its present namesake.  The farm was eventually purchased by the town in 1998 and is managed by the Conservation Department who are responsible for maintaining the land as publically accessible open space and grassland.  The farm’s unique habitat serves as a sanctuary for a diverse group of wildlife, especially birds and is frequently visited by birder watchers, nature lovers and dog walkers.

When Sue Schoen, the previous shepherd, moved to Western Massachusetts to pursue a larger farm of her own, the sheep vanished from Peterson Farm. Uncontrolled by the natural lawn-mowing of foraging sheep the grass grew tall and invasive weeds began to spread. Commercial mowing was needed to keep the brush at bay.

Who are we?

This is where we come in. We are Diana Wickman and Simon Thorrold. Growing up on farms in Connecticut and New Zealand, we have a passion for animals, farming and locally and ethically produced food.  We both work at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and are teaming up to restore Peterson Farm back to its hay day; a real working sheep farm. Ten Katahdin ewes will be making the move from an island in Maine to Peterson Farm in mid May. They will be the starter flock for what we hope will grow to be a flock of about 30 ewes and lambs. The ewes will be rotationally grazed on the pasture, fertilizing and restoring the land and keeping the open grassland habitat that is so critical to the wildlife in the area.  We look forward to reviving a Falmouth tradition of welcoming spring with new lambs on Peterson Farm!

We have big dreams for this special town treasure and a lot needs to be done to restore it to its former glory. The shepherd tenancy is an unpaid position and while we will be able to cover some costs we are asking for your help with the farm infrastructure.  Our hope is that Peterson Farm becomes an even more popular destination for town residents and visitors, located strategically through Beebe Woods from Highfield Hall.

What we need

First, most of the perimeter fence is either missing or has been extensively damaged and overtaken by invasive plants. With the highest concern for safety of both our livestock and visitors to the farm our first plan is to restore the fencing, replacing the three stand electric with sturdy woven wire. The fence will keep sheep in, and potential predators out, of the fields. In addition to keeping the animals safe, doing the fence right will ensure that it remains effective and attractive for at least 20 years and will help to keep maintenance costs low. We want to be able focus most of our attention on the welfare of our animals and health of the grasslands and having a sturdy fence we can rely on is the first step.  The materials needed for the fencing project totals $14,000.

Second, we are seeking money to buy a compact tractor. A tractor is essential for most all the farm chores be it re-spreading manure over the fields, repairing fences, controlling invasive plants, and transporting bales of hay from the barn to the pasture. A reliable, pre-owned compact tractor that will suit our needs will cost $12,000.

We can’t wait to get started and are excited to share our love for this special place with everyone who visits the farm. We hope you will be willing to donate and turn these dreams into reality.

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    • $200 
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Diana Wickman 
Falmouth, MA
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