BAR HARBOR — Kelly Payson-Roopchand will talk about her book “Birth, Death, and a Tractor: Connecting an Old Farm to a New Family” at the Jesup Memorial Library on Thursday, June 18, at 7 p.m.
In the early 1800s, a family turned a patch of land in Somerville into a family farm. Six generations of the family farmed the land until the last children moved away and the farmer no longer could work. In 2008, Kelly Payson-Roopchand’s family purchased the land and revived the farm. Now, Payson-Roopchand has chronicled the seven generations that have called the farm home in her new book.
Payson-Roopchand says the first time she saw the farm, she knew she wanted to write its history. “My husband and I were standing on the dirt road in front of the barn talking to the realtor when we saw this elderly, rather stooped man making his way down his driveway,” she said. “His name was Donald Hewett, and his family had homesteaded this land in the early 1800s. He shook our hands … started to tell us stories of the farm in this beautiful, slow voice … I knew then that I wanted to learn those stories and be part of this farm.”
She began researching the history of the farm, first as an oral history of Hewett and his wife, then learning more about homesteading in Maine itself, which touched on a larger story of how small farms are part of many family histories. “The more I researched, the more I realized that this is, in many ways, the story of families across our nation, who have left farming at different points along the way, but who share a common past,” she said. “So this also prompted me to write this story, to bring to people’s attention the impact of the choices we are now making, sometimes unconsciously, and the resources we are losing – and the hope that we can preserve it for the children of today and tomorrow.”
This event is co-sponsored by Sherman’s bookstore. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the Jesup that evening, with a percentage of sales donated to the library.
For more about the book and farm, visit Pumpkin Vine Family Farm on Facebook. For more about the event, call the library at 288-4245.