How did Cider Hill Farm originate?
Farm owner, Becky Layton Bartovics, grew up pressing cider every year as a community event at her home in Lincolnville, MA. Family, friends, and neighbors would come together to pick apples, pulling apple laden wagons and hand cranking an antique grinder and press. Cider making was always a part of her life.
Becky always dreamed of fruit trees and sheep of her own. This became a reality when she bought a farm on North Haven island that had an old orchard up on a hill overlooking West Penobscot Bay. When she and her family moved to North Haven, there were 11 apple trees and 5 pears on the property. Over time, she has continued to plant more apples and try out various kinds of fruit trees, including peach, plum, apricot and cherry.
John Bunker, Maine’s Johnny Appleseed and founder of Fedco Trees, visited the orchard and was wowed by a particularly old tree and its one-and-a-half pound apples. Not able to find a match anywhere else, John offered the opportunity to name that tree. Cora’s Grand Greening Apple is the chosen name to honor Cora Ames, an old island family.
That first Christmas on North Haven, the Bartovics kids found a cider press of their own, and there have been cider pressings every year on the island since. Excited faces lug apples in from all over the island. Often there is homemade bread or freshly popped popcorn, or maybe some dilly beans and cheese to accompany the cider fresh off the press. On extra cold days, there is a fire and hot mulled cider to warm up around.
All are always welcome, whether you are a friendly neighbor or visiting for the weekend. Becky also enjoys hosting the students from the North Haven Community School, and the Laugh and Learn Preschool. The kids love bringing the apple pomace down to the awaiting ewes and lambs when they’re done. The chickens don’t mind the sweet scraps either!
So, when it came down to naming the farm, it is clear why Cider Hill was a good candidate. A close runner up, however, was Salt Air Farm. It was hard to let go of that name, so when craftsman Josh Ryan joined the team to create wooden goods, Salt Air Woodworking happily came to fruition.
Today, the farm consists of:
- A herd of Coopworth and Border Leicester/Coopworth cross ewes, providing beautiful woolen goods and excellent company (and let's not forget contributing important fertilizer to our compost!)
- Free-range chickens, providing delicious, nutrient-rich eggs to friends and family
- A beautiful organic garden, filled with vegetables, herbs, and flowers, creating an incredible sanctuary for birds and insects
- Four mixed heritage breed pigs (Tamworth, Big Black, Berkshire, and Yorkshire)
- 2 top bar beehives, roughly 20,000 bees
- A bounty of beautifully crafted wooden home goods and toys