The Seaview Farm fields – tilled for seven generations by the Lane Family – ripple with turned soil behind stone-wall lined lanes right in the middle of Rockport, hidden by the clusters of homes that have risen thickly over the years. A swath of Seaview Farm pastures still cuts right through town, through the densely settled neighborhoods off South St. and Marmion Way.
The beautiful geometry of farmhouse, barns and silo make a classic sequence along one side of Lane’s Farm Way as it threads off of South St. and into the northernmost Dogtown woods. The south-east facing classroom windows of the Rockport Schools look out to Seaview Farm. Like the sign declares humbly from the wooden farm porch facing South St., Sandy Bay’s waters break about a thousand feet north, up Marmion Way. When the first Lane began farming in 1838 there was certainly a view of the sea.
There are not many towns with such an accessible working farm. For a multitude of reasons – low carbon footprint, fresher less travel-worn food – “local” eating is the right thing to do. Rockport boasts not just a historical blessing – there are not many seven-generation working farms – but we now have more and more Rockport-grown food. Ken Lane, the current Lane to run the farm, is slowly reversing his grandfather’s shift from farming to raising horses thirty years ago. Having been a dairy farmer in Maine, Ken Lane returned to the family homestead when his grandfather died, and brought farming with him.
Lane has a small herd of cattle which he pastures on grass, allowing us the luxury of locally raised grass-fed beef. He’s returning more and more lands to growing vegetables.
I met him a few days ago, when the snow banks had finally melted, and we hiked across South St. down a lane to his greenhouse, where a thousand seedlings were warming up. Shining crimson lettuce, soft spinach leaves, kale spears, and founts of sprouting beet tops rippled down the rows.
All these are already for sale in the Seaview Farm “store” on the front porch Saturday mornings. This spring and summer there will be peas, green beans, swiss chard, peppers, celery, tomatoes, and butternut squash. The grass-fed beef is sold out of the freezer on the porch; just a reminder, it’s a little tougher than grain-fed beef, but the flavor is incomparable, a complex, herbal bouquet in this local protein.
About Rockport protein, Lane is raising chickens for eggs; the last carton I picked up at the store contained eleven earthy brown eggs and one blue.
Lane sells his beef and produce from his front porch store, at the Cape Ann Farmer’s Market, and the Rockport Farmer’s Market. Watch for announcements of a Seaview Farm Dinner (June 19th) with chef Sheila Jarnes from Short & Main, sponsored by the Rockport Exchange.
The Rockport Exchange, formerly Rockport Festivals, feels that food systems change the culture of a place; having a working farm with its locally raised meat and produce in our town, supported by the community, adds a significant value to a place; it nourishes us physically, spiritually, and economically.