In the “Heart” of West Simsbury
Surrounding the center of beautiful downtown West Simsbury, Connecticut, the 265 acres of Tulmeadow Farm has been farmed by members of the Tuller family since 1768. We raise vegetables, both in greenhouses for early season availability, and in the fields, that we sell in the Farm Store.
We also raise hay and make silage bales, both for sale and to provide feed for our herd of grass-fed beef cattle. Tulmeadow has become best known for the gourmet ice cream made here on the farm. Ice cream is scooped at the farm store mid-April through October 30th. Quarts of Tulmeadow Ice Cream are available in area supermarkets for the convenience of customers who can’t make it to the farm in West Simsbury.
Raising Our Produce
We start our growing season each year in the greenhouse around February 1st seeding our lettuce, tatsoi, arugula, swiss chard and basil for sale in the Farm Store about 10 weeks later. We also start tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in the greenhouse, and other slow growing varieties of garden plants to be sold later at the Farm Store. Planting expands as the weeks go by and we start just about all varieties we grow in our gardens, in our greenhouses.
When the threat of frost during the Spring season has passed, we start planting sweet corn, lettuces, and other cold-hearty crops in our outdoor fields. Through the course of the summer, we grow lettuce, broccoli, squashes, cucumbers, peppers, many varieties of tomatoes including: heirloom, regular, sauce, grape, and cherry tomatoes, beans, flowers, pumpkins, gourds and sweet corn.
Crops for the Animals
We grow and harvest many acres of grass for feeding our beef herd and also for sale. We also harvest hay from over 200 acres we do not own. The hay is ‘put up’ as square bales (rectangular actually, weighing about 40 lbs each), round bales (about 500-600 lbs each), and silage bales (the big white ‘marshmallows’ seen at the edges of some fields, each weighing 800-1000 lbs). We like the silage bales because after the grass is cut, you let it dry just a bit (about 55% moisture) so that after you bale it and wrap it up in airtight plastic, the moisture that is left will help the grass to ferment, and it becomes silage, which stores well and the cows love to eat. Dry grass hay bales as opposed to the silage hay bays, have to dry a lot more (10% moisture) and that takes several rain-free days in a row to accomplish that, and a good stretch of rain-free days are uncommon in May and June in Connecticut.
The beef cows graze between April and November. The rest of the year we feed them silage hay. We are working on a grazing plan for next year to expand the amount of grazing they do, using a rotational system to optimize the use of our pasture land.
Most of our vegetable plants are started by seeds in our greenhouses. We use manure from our own cows to fertilize our vegetable fields. We do not use any herbicides, instead we weed by hand and till the weeds in between rows. We only use insect or fungal controls if a whole crop is threatened, which is rare, and the ones we choose are safe, non-restricted types. We do, however, routinely use a safe, non-restricted use insecticide on our sweet corn, as we’ve found it difficult to sell corn with worms. We find using half the recommended manufacturer’s amount does the trick, leaving us with only the occasional worm. As much as people want ‘chemical’ free, most don’t want to share with worms! In conclusion, we are “very low chemical”, using as little pesticide and fungicide as possible to create a pleasing product while eliminating herbicides and chemical fertilizers altogether in our fields.
“ The Woods are Lovely, Dark and Deep… ” - Robert Frost
Tulmeadow is also home to a 73 acre woodlot that we manage to maintain as a healthy forest. We work with a consulting forester to harvest some timber every 10 to 15 years, removing mature timber and making space for new growth that replaces it. This woodlot is the last parcel of Tulmeadow Farm that the Simsbury Land Trust is raising money for, to acquire its development rights and preserve it as protected woodland.