Six River Farm is owned and operated by Nate Drummond and Gabrielle Gosselin. We are joined by an amazing group of hard working employees who make our farm possible!
Read on to learn how Nate and Gabrielle got started farming and how the farm has changed over the years!
My husband, Nate Drummond, and I started Six River Farm here in Bowdoinham in 2007. We met our freshman year of college where neither of us studied agriculture (Nate: Environmental History, Me: South Asian Studies), but after after graduating in 2003 we worked for one season on Sewall’s Orchard, an organic apple orchard in Lincolnville. Though we absolutely loved it, it was not at the time a career path we were planning on, and instead we moved to New York City to be near friends and explore city living.
In New York City, Nate worked in public health research whereas I quickly realized that sitting at a desk in Midtown Manhattan was not for me. Longing for something tangible to do and wanting to be outside while still living in the city, a friend helped me realize that what I loved most in New York was the farmers markets. She suggested I ask the farms I liked if they needed extra help and that is how I began working for Hawthorne Valley Farm and Wilklow Orchards (both upstate New York farms) for most of the two years that we lived in New York City. Toward the end of our time there, Nate joined me many Saturdays working at markets and also felt ready for a shift from his job. After learning and engaging with the marketing end of farming, we both had also become increasing interested in the production side of agriculture and we decided to leave New York City to become farm apprentices and immerse ourselves fully in the work with the goal of our own farm in the future.
In 2006, we apprenticed for Paul and Sandy Arnold at Pleasant Valley Farm in Argyle, New York. Their farm fit many of the criteria we had developed for the farm we ourselves wanted to create: a diverse vegetable farm that focused sales primarily at farmers markets and that could support them and their family without the need for off-farm income. We immersed ourselves in the apprenticeship, working and living on the farm and asking as many questions as we could. Paul and Sandy were generous with their knowledge and over the course of the season, encouraged us to set off to start our own farm the following year rather than do another apprenticeship or manage a farm first (two other options we had been considering).
So with a fair amount of marketing experience but only one season of growing under our belt, and through the help of Main Farm Link (a farmland list serve put out by Maine Farmland Trust), we began leasing eight acres of beautiful Hadley silt loam right along the shores of Merrymeeting Bay in Bowdoinham. At the time, we did not know much about the area (Nate is from near Bangor, I am from Amherst, Massachusetts) but the soil was perfect (no rocks!), the location was stunning, and the farmers markets in Brunswick were already well established and vibrant. We also didn’t have to build any infrastructure our first year since we were able to lease space in a large existing wash station across the street from our field which meant we could invest in other tools for our farm.
In 2007, Nate and I grew two and a half acres of vegetables. It was just the two of us working on our farm and we did our best to replicate the best growing and marketing practices we had learned from the farms we had worked with previously. Over time, we also increased our knowledge with hands-on learning as we grew our farm and with farm visits to see other growers and with winter farming conferences, not to mention the almost daily conversations with the other farmers right next to us or just down the road. We began hiring employees our second year and increased our acreage as more field became available for lease.
We also realized that this was an amazing place to work and live. We had hoped to start our farm in Bowdoinham, learn a lot, and then relocate somewhere that could be permanent place to farm in the future. What we found was an incredibly welcoming and generous community of other farmers, neighbors, and new-to-us customers. We were given guidance and resources to help learn quickly on the go. We did not want to leave. We got married on our farm in 2010 and we were lucky enough to be able to purchase our home with some farm fields in 2011. Our daughter, Alice, was born in 2014 and our son, Quincy, was born in 2018. And Nate’s parents, Frank and Ellie, retired as Professors of Entomology at UMaine and moved in to the house they built next door to us in 2019 (which means we have amazing childcare help as well as excellent on-site pest identification and management assistance!)
As we have shifted from just the two of us working (much more than) full-time on the farm to figuring out a balance of farming with a family, we have been so lucky and incredibly grateful for our amazing employees who have made it possible for us to change and adapt our farm. We now grow roughly twenty acres of vegetables (managing a total of thirty-eight acres between what we own and what we lease) and we have twenty-two employees. Many of them have worked with us for several years (or longer!) and all of whom are incredibly hard working, dedicated and a joy to have as a part of our farm. They are thoughtful in their work, provide important feedback so we can continuously improve our farm, and are kind with each other and with our family. Their flexibility and willingness to adapt to changes over the years and most especially these past couple of years is commendable and we are so thankful.
We couldn’t be more grateful to raise our family here and grow food with wonderful people for wonderful people. We look forward to continuing to farm for many, many years!