In the 1800’s, the property was known as the Allen farm, and the brook that runs through it is the Allen Brook. The property has been held primarily by just two families since Quintus Allen of Greenfield sold off part of his larger tract to Amos Allen in 1802. The farm remained in the Allen family until about 1913, and then had several owners until it was purchased in 1924 by Kenyon Yale Taylor. Members of the Taylor family have owned the property continuously since that time, now nearly one hundred years.
Starting the Farm
Susan’s grandfather, Kenyon Yale Taylor, bought the original dairy farm in 1924 as a summer home, but moved here full time during the Depression. He spent many hours on the farm after his day work at the Millers Falls Tool Company and finally, with the help of his sons, planted over forty acres of apples. By then, the farm needed a name. Kenyon combined his name with that of a benefactor, Burnham Colburn, and Kenburn Orchards was established. We have retained that name to this day, even though little of the original orchards remain. After several years of operating the farm, the family decided to rent the orchards to a neighbor with a larger farm, refrigeration equipment and more working capital. The farm was operated by Mohawk Orchards, and then Valley View Orchards, until 1986.
Susan’s parents, G. Pierce, and Lillian Taylor lived at the farm from 1943 to 1952. Susan was born here, and had a delightful childhood “helping” her grandfather with all sorts of chores, so she was sad that the family moved away when she was seven.
Pierce bought the property from his brothers after Kenyon’s death in the mid-1950s, and although the family could not live here, they held on to it through thick and thin, always with the intent of returning someday. Pierce and Lillian returned to the farm in 1975, and Pierce lived here until his death in 1997. Difficulty walking made it impossible for Pierce to do as much as he would have liked on the farm, so Susan and her husband, Larry, were increasingly involved with its upkeep.
Susan inherited the farm. She and Larry were living about twenty miles south of here when Larry, came home from his administrative job in Springfield, and from behind the newspaper said: “I think we need to move to the farm, and I think we need to open a Bed and Breakfast.” And so began the next chapter.
We moved back here in 1998 and opened the Bed and Breakfast in the fall of 2000. We certainly did not anticipate becoming full time farmers. Fate has a way of intervening, however, and in 2003 Larry turned his attention to growing crops at about the same age that others are thinking about retirement.
Rejuvenating the Farm
Over time, Larry removed some of the original decrepit apple trees in order to plant several thousand Christmas trees, and over two acres of cultivated blueberries. He studied, went to conferences and joined professional associations in order to learn and implement the best practices for growing each crop. The result is rewarding; we have beautiful blueberry bushes in a spectacular location and our Christmas trees are becoming local favorites.
We have made other big changes. Russell Donelson and his crew built a brand new barn from hemlock cut and milled on the nearby Hall Tavern Farm. Dick and Rob Hillman dredged our swampy farm pond and transformed it into the source for the drip irrigation that ensures that the blueberries get plenty of water. We have cleared most of the old apple trees, and the resulting grasslands provide excellent habitat for local wildlife.
Planning for the Future
Even as the uses of the land have evolved, it has been the wish of each of the generations of our family that the land be preserved as open land for farming and forest. Consequently, we are planning to place a conservation restriction on the land so it may continue to nurture future families forever.
- Farm Timeline
- Nature of the Land