The farm was founded in 1816, by Edward Smith. The main farmhouse, built in 1822, is called ‘Smithfield’, and the two buildings flanking each side were constructed in the 1840s. One was used as a summer kitchen, and the other as a school house. The farm’s sizable brick barn is believed to be the largest solid-brick barn in the United States.
The building where the farm store is located was once a home to enslaved people. At the time of the Civil War there were more than 60 enslaved people on the farm, freed in 1863 by the Emancipation Proclamation.
In 1988, Ruth Smith Pritchard inherited Smithfield from her farmer parents Robert and Mary. By this time, the buildings had fallen into major disrepair, having not been inhabited since the 1950s. In 1989, Ruth began to restore the buildings, devoting ten years to this endeavor with the help of her family and the stone mason Edward Palzewski. In 1999, Smithfield was reopened as a bed & breakfast by her daughter Betsy, and has now been enjoyed by thousands of visitors nationwide.
Meanwhile, after a devastating corn crop in the mid 1990s, the farm transitioned to an organic, pasture-based livestock operation. Reimagined as ‘Smith Meadows’, the farm began attending farmers’ markets, and eventually opened an on-farm store featuring Nancy Polo’s fresh pasta. Smith Meadows is now one of the oldest “grass farms” in the country. This story was chronicled in the book Gaining Ground, which became a New York Times bestseller.
Today, we strive to honor the people who came before us, while celebrating the hopeful promise of sustainable agriculture. When you shop here, your dollars support open land, honest food, and our local economy. Together, we can continue to make a real difference.