About Our Farm
Oaklands Farm is located in the Kennebec River Valley in central Maine, on land that has been owned and farmed continuously by eight generations of the Gardiner family–over 250 years. For hundreds of years before that, it was cared for by the Abenaki people.
In the early 20th century, the featured crops were Belfleur apples and vegetables, along with some cattle and sheep, raised primarily to feed those who lived on the farm. From 1920 to 1990, a dairy herd produced Golden Guernsey milk, which was initially bottled and sold in the community. The family closed the dairy business in 1990 and produced hay for local horse farms until 2000, when Phyllis and Logan purchased a group of five cows and calves to start a grass-fed beef operation, which has grown and developed ever since. A flock of sheep moved here with Kristian Holbrook in 2020, adding the ecological benefits of multi-species grazing as well as a delicious new product.
Oaklands Farm is now home to a herd of 15-20 brood cows and calves (a crossbreed of Angus and Hereford cattle) and about 70 sheep and lambs. They graze and eat hay produced on about 125 acres of fields.
We view ourselves as long-term stewards of this land, and we farm it in much the same way it was farmed over 100 years ago – albeit with the added power of tractors, hydraulics and baling twine, rather than horses and hand tools.
We believe in giving our animals a good life, and we keep them healthy by rotating them through fresh pastures during the growing season and, from late fall through early spring, serving up baleage and dry hay produced here on the farm. The only feed not grown here is a small amount of organic grain fed to the ewes and lambs for a short period before and after the lambs are born.
All of our grassland is certified organic. Although we do not certify our beef and lamb as organic, we raise the animals according to very similar standards – the only difference being that we reserve the right to administer antibiotics to an animal who is sick, in order to get them well faster.
We emphasize quality over quantity in our operation, limiting the number of animals to what the land and our labor force can reasonably sustain.
Retired as a state assistant attorney general, Phyllis is primarily responsible for bookkeeping and maintaining the cattle and inventory records, as well as helping to stack square bales of hay in the barn. She prefers using hand tools to driving heavy equipment, and is often seen digging up thistles, burdock and other invasive plants from our pastures -- the organic way.
A former chef, Kristian turned to cheese making and dairy farming when his daughter was born in 2002. He has created award winning cheeses and happy productive cows and sheep these last 20 years at several locations in the mid-Atlantic states and New England. Kristian moved here with his sheep in early 2021 and has since taken charge of daily operations. He is happy to be a part of the continuation of Oaklands Farm.
A retired physician who has been helping out on the farm for over 20 years, providing an extra hand during haying, vaccinating and caring for the cows, clearing the edges of the fields and working with Phyllis on controlling invasive plants in the pastures. He remains laser-focused on how we can strengthen and expand our small, vibrant and diversified farming business to provide food to local and regional markets.
On June 2, 2018, a UFO was reported hovering over the Kennebec River in the Gardiner area. The following day Joshua Robbins joined our team. A decorated veteran in the war of the roses (multiflora rose, that is), he battles to keep our pasture fence lines clear and enjoys communicating telepathically with the sheep. He is an efficient bale-wrapper as well as an awesome bass player. Having served Oaklands Farm burger as a member of the wait staff at the A-1 Diner, Josh now helps to market and deliver our beef, lamb and cheese products to area stores and restaurants and keeps all of us smiling.
Those of you who have been customers of Oaklands Farm in the past knew Logan Johnston as the principal farmer here. Indeed, Logan started our beef farming business and operated all aspects of it for over 20 years before his unexpected passing in May 2022. A lover of literature and music who started his career as a book publisher and bookstore consultant, Logan was also a true gearhead capable of dealing with almost any equipment breakdown – a crucial farming skill. He embraced farming as a means of stewarding the land that has been in our family for so many generations, and he was an enthusiastic supporting member of the local food movement through the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and our local food co-op. He believed deeply in the value of producing healthy food to sustain members of our local community. Those values continue to guide our work at Oaklands Farm.
The farm currently produces meat for sale from 12-15 beef animals per year and about 60 lambs per year -- primarily during the period from December through May. Our hamburger is a feature on the menu at the A1 Diner in downtown Gardiner and is also sold frozen by the pound at the Gardiner Food Co-op and Cafe and at the Sheepscot General Store in Whitefield.