April 26, 2015

East Mountain Farm

By Gina Iannitelli

Kim Wells adores his livestock. For a farmer who spends much of his time raising pigs, cattle, and chickens for slaughter, he is remarkably in tune with the animals themselves. In mid-July he gave a pair of visitors to his domain, East Mountain Farm, a thorough tour of not only the chickens and cattle, which were on the central portion of the farm, but also of the pig breeds up in the woods. The pigs saw that they had human visitors and sprinted down the hill, coming to a sudden stop before the electric fence. Wells laughed as he fondly told stories of his difficulty moving the pigs from one pen to the next—they are wary of the edge of the pen even when the fence is not there.

Wells works alone on East Mountain Farm in Williamstown, MA, save for one person who helps him with the hay. Wells attended Williams College and gained three years of farming experience in Kentucky in the mid-1970s. Since buying the farm in 1982 Wells has increased his stock from just veal and beef to chicken, beef, pork, hay, and firewood. The farm expanded in the year 2000, Wells explains, after his children were fully grown and he had more time. He currently produces annually 8 beefers, between 650 and 900 chickens, and 60 pigs —all of whom he describes as “healthy and happy.”

“I like the way it’s evolved into beef, pigs, and chickens…it’s a good combo,” he says.

Supporting such a large family of animals, however, does not come without its difficulties. Wells acknowledges a couple: “Poultry is the real killer,” he begins, explaining that there is a severe shortage of local poultry processors. Currently he must make a trip into Connecticut to get his chickens processed and inspected, but he says that it is worth the trouble to ensure quality. Furthermore, the chicken is nicely packaged.  Another problem is the transport of water—the current system would need to be improved to support more livestock.

Wells’ restaurant customers include Mezze Bistro + Bar in Williamstown and Gramercy Bistro in North Adams. He sends out a newsletter in late spring which allows members of the public to claim their shares of meat. Additionally, Wells has started selling his products at Mighty Food Farm in Pownal, VT.

Since the early 1980s, Kim Wells has worked on providing his local customers with quality meat, firewood, and hay, and he has not wavered on his mission: As he completes a tour of the inside of his meat freezer, he says with a smile, “I’m proud of the stuff that I sell.”