166 years, 7 generations & counting…
It all started seven generations ago, when George Davis, a farmer from Westford MA, moved to Redstone Hill Road in 1846. Since then, generations of Davises have lived and worked on this very spot. If it’s farming, you can bet that the Davis Family has done it. They’ve operated a dairy business, complete with home delivery service, a roadside fruit stand, vegetable gardens, forage crop fields, a cider mill, timber lands, lumber mills and even mining operations, but that’s not all. Many Davises have held important agricultural positions off the farm. In fact, Jonathan Davis was not only the founding President of Agway, but you also may have seen him rubbing elbows with President Lyndon Johnson after Mr. Johnson appointed him Board Chairman of the Federal Farm Credit Banking System.
Of course you probably want to hear more about the current generation of Davises. Well, that story begins in 1990. At that point John Davis and two of his sons, Larry and Doug, were managing the dairy operation. One night, a fire destroyed most of the dairy farm here in Sterling. As you can imagine, the Davis spirits were just about as low as could be. Two days after the tragedy, a friend gave the Davises three highland cattle and let me tell you, it really boosted their morale to have cattle grazing out in front of the burned dairy barn. Wouldn’t you know it, within days people were driving down their quiet side street just to catch a glimpse of these bizarre creatures. One man was so excited that he stepped out of his car in the middle of a thunderstorm, with nothing to protect him but business suit, just to get a closer look. Can you believe it?
Well, that certainly inspired the Davises. They knew they had something special and decided that they wanted to share it with all of you. So John, Larry and Doug went to work and built a small temporary petting zoo. Before they knew it, the petting zoo had become a home for all kinds of endangered farm animals, not to mention a full time job for the Davises. Brook, a Scottish Highland (seen in the photo on the left) was born in 1991 and the farm’s first endangered farm animal born at Farmland. Still, the Davises just weren’t satisfied. They dreamed of creating a farm that was not only a home for endangered animals but also a place for you and your family to gather for some good old-fashioned fun. You have no idea how exciting it was when Davis Farmland finally opened (in a snowstorm, wouldn’t you know!) in May of 1996.
Of course, the Davises didn’t stop there. Since then they’ve been hard at work expanding their vision. In 1998, Larry almost single handedly carved out Davis Mega Maze, an award winning 3-dimensional field maze, from one of the farm’s cornfields. Now, from August until October you can find people wandering lost among the Davis sunlit rows of corn. In 2000, Davis Farmland teamed up with the San Diego Zoo to create the world’s first “Frozen Zoo” for endangered farm animals, which preserves their DNA. You can be confident that you’ll be able to see these creatures for generations to come. In 2002, Farmland opened its first major expansion called Adventure Play & Spray, which was complete with the nation’s largest zero depth spray ground, so you’ll always have a place to cool down on those hot summer days.
The Davises will be the first to tell you that the recent developments at Davis Farmland are just the latest chapters in the rich history of their farm and their family. As John always says “Over the generations the Davis family has always trusted that hard work and innovation will keep agriculture alive and well in Massachusetts. Farming practices may have changed over the years, but the values such as preserving the rich farming culture of New England, maintaining open lands, and above all else, the importance of family, remain the same.” The Davises strive to make Farmland a place where these values can flourish for generations to come. We invite you to join us in celebrating our heritage while looking towards the future.