Agricultural production on land now operated by Sandy River Farms goes back to the very first settlers coming to Farmington, Maine. The first farm houses and barns were erected not far from the site of the present milk barn and house complex. The overnight stagecoach halfway stop that ran between Hallowell and Rangeley Lakes was at this site in the 1800’s. The century old Maine style connected house and barn was completely destroyed by a lightning strike and resulting fire on July 1, 1995. Hundreds of volunteers helped construct a new facility in just two weekends of an old fashioned barn raising and the cows were back by late November of the same year in a new barn.
The Linwood J. York family bought what was known as the “Kind of the Valley” farm in 1952. The fertile fields supplied a great deal of sweet corn and string beans for the local canning factories. Other commodities included 100 head of registered Hereford cattle, baled hay and wood products.
Sandy River Farms came into being around 1961 when L. Herbert and Brenda Voter York took over the farm and started their expansion process. Beef was changed to dairy in 1963 and the land base gradually expanded to include fifteen separate farms into one working unit. Sandy River Farms now constitute 600 acres of land in pastures, hayland and row crops as well as approximately 1000 acres of forest land. The fields run from the edge of town to the north, 2.5 miles south along the river, with another 40 acres at the New Sharon town line.
Sugar beets, turnips, squash, dry beans, sweet corn, beet greens, oats, barley, wheat and soybeans have all been raised with the winter months filled by a small logging operation. The biggest change to the production on the farm was the 2000 conversion to the organic milk market and the transition of the land to certified organic cropping.
The prefix of Sandy River has followed many of the registered Milking Shorthorns and Holsteins through the years resulting in national recognition of “Sandy River Tish” for highest US production of one 305 day lactation of nearly 34,000 lbs.
Practicing sound conservation and maintaining a sensible and sustainable farming operation has been the long term goal of Sandy River Farms. The question was never what we would be doing, but rather how we could do it better. Farming has been a lifetime commitment for the York family for several generations.