Students learn about fire prevention

The Somerville Pre-K kids from the Somerville Elementary School (Contributed photo)

The Somerville Volunteer Fire Department visited the Somerville Pre-K classroom at Somerville Elementary School to teach them about fire safety. They showed them what a firefighter would look like if they had a fire at their house, and they demonstrated how they use their equipment. They talked about 911 and knowing what their address was. The children explored the firetruck, learning about the equipment and for what it is used.

Beverage enrolls at Eastern Connecticut

Eastern Connecticut State University, in Willimantic, Connecticut, recently released its list of newly-enrolled students for the fall 2018 semester. Blake Beverage of Somerville, is attending Eastern this fall. Beverage’s major is biology.

Somerville’s Lily Thompson is STAR student of the month

Lily Thompson

Maine Connections Academy (MCA), the state’s first virtual public charter school, has selected Lily Thompson, an eighth grader from Somerville, as its January STAR Student. Lily was chosen due to her engagement in her lessons and her consistently excellent performance in and outside of school.

Lily enrolled in Maine Connections Academy in 2016, seeking more flexibility to devote additional time to her talents in music and horseback riding. Outside of MCA, Lily plays piano and violin and participates in multiple orchestral groups. Her favorite activity at MCA is the school’s Academic Summits, events where students from across the state come together with teachers and special guests for days of learning and fun.

Lily’s favorite subject is Gifted and Talented Literature Study. Lily enjoys literature study because of the opportunities it gives her to analyze short stories and engage in discussion with her peers. Algebra is her second favorite subject. Says Lily, “[Algebra] is like another language. Instead of words there are numbers. Numbers always have an exact definition, and words sometimes don’t.”

Magic of Christmas at Yule Goat Farm

The magic of Christmas is furry and four-footed at Pumpkin Vine Farm’s Holiday Craft Markets on December 3 and 17. In Scandinavian tradition, the Yule Goat brings presents to children at Christmas, accompanied by the Tomten, a farm gnome who looks after the well-being of the animals. The farm’s Yule Goat and Tomten will be visiting with children between 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., with a special story time beginning at noon and 1 p.m. Children will have the opportunity to make a special treat for the animals in their neighborhood.

Following a visit to the barn, browse the local crafts and farm-fresh treats at the farm’s holiday market. All our products are made by local artisans and reflect the beauty and bounty of nature, from wreaths to wooden bowls, hand-knits, skin-care products, and jewelry. Our edible treats include cajeta (goat’s milk caramel sauce) and truffles, local honey, and squash, pumpkins and other veggies for your Christmas feast.

Bring your walking boots (and a sled if it’s snowy) to enjoy the beauty of the farm’s hills and fields in winter; we’ll have a fire and free hot chocolate to warm you inside and out! The farm is located at 217 Hewett Rd., in Somerville; for more information, visit, email or call (207) 549-3096.

Folk concert & Contra dance at Pumpkin Vine Farm Aug. 12

There’s folk music in the air and it’s coming from the fields of Pumpkin Vine Family Farm in Somerville! Come find out why the pigs are shaking their tails and the goats are stomping their feet…

Sassafrass Stomp is performing their sweet, high-energy folk music on Saturday, August 12, from 6 – 9 p.m., in a tent overlooking the back fields. No experience is needed to enjoy the fun as Chrissy Fowler, the dance caller, specializes in teaching contra dance to beginners and children, at 217 Hewett Rd., in Somerville!

Sassafrass Stomp, the husband and wife duo of Adam Nordell and Johanna Davis, perform traditional fiddle tunes and old ballads from the various branches of Celtic and old-time family trees as well as their own original material. They back their sweet harmony vocals with fiddle, banjo, guitar, shruti box and foot percussion. When they are not performing, they are also the farmers of Songbird Farm, in Unity, where they grow heirloom grains. Learn more and hear samples of their music at

Pumpkin Vine Family Farm became incorporated as a Farm Education Center in 2017, with a mission of connecting the community to small family farms. In that spirit, we are hosting this concert and dance as a non-profit event; all proceeds go to the musicians and equipment rental companies.

Tickets are $10/person or $25/family (2 adults and any number of children). Reservations are recommended as space is limited to ensure space under the tent in case of rain. Call Kelly at (207) 549-3096 or email to save your space. To learn more about the farm visit

VFD holds demo at Somerville school

The Somerville Volunteer Fire Department recently visited the Somerville Pre-K program. Chief Dostie and other members of the Somerville Volunteer Fire Department demonstrated what a firefighter looks like when dressed in full gear. Young children are often scared the first time they see a firefighter. Children practiced crawling under smoke. They also had a chance to see what equipment is on a fire truck. Chief Dostie talked about smoke detectors and the importance of them.


Contributed photo

Pumpkin Vine Family Farm a family affair

by Mary Grow

Kelly Payson-Roopchand has found her place in life.

She and her husband Anil live on Pumpkin Vine Family Farm on Hewett Road, in Somerville, with their two children, numerous goats and ducks, two pigs, two Jersey cows, two cats, a boisterous young dog, and assorted wildlife, from the barn swallows nesting in the old barn to the frogs, turtles, beaver and occasional moose in the brook at the foot of the nearer field.

Pumpkin Vine Family Farm

Anil with the children Kieran, left, and Sarita. Photos courtesy Kelly Payson-Roopchand

The place has been farmed since the early 1800s.  The barn was probably built in the 1820s, with an addition in the 1920s; Kelly and Anil had an expert replace worn-out sections in 2010.  Francis Kennedy built the stone bridge across the brook in 1870 so his sheep could reach the far pasture.

The original part of the house also dates from the 1820s.  It stands just below the crest of a hill with a view to the southeast, sheltered by the hilltop and the barn from the cold winter wind.      “We’re so lucky to be here,” Kelly says.  “We’re just the present caretakers; we want to share.”

And share they do.  Pumpkin Vine Family Farm welcomes visitors Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the second summer of Farm Camp for children will run for two weeks in July and August.  Sunday guests can tour the property and meet the animals, often guided by Kieran, who’ll be eight years old the end of July, and Sarita, who turned six late in March.  Sarita shares her birthday with her maternal grandfather, Harold “Smoky” Payson, of China, and with Shirley Hewett, widow of Donald Hewett, the last of the six generations of farmers who owned the property before Kelly and Anil bought it in 2007.

Kieran has other farm assignments, too, helping with milking and haying, but he still has time to enjoy catching frogs and spotting turtles at the brook.

Anil planting garlic with Kieran

Anil planting garlic with Kieran last fall. Photos courtesy Kelly Payson-Roopchand

In the former garage Don Hewett’s brother Lloyd built just south of the house Kelly and Anil run a Sunday shop, selling their home-made goat cheeses, goat milk and fall vegetables (the goats keep them too busy to tend a summer garden).  This spring Benji Knisley and Shaun Keenan from Sand Hill Farm joined them, bringing early vegetables, baked goods and jams and jellies.

Inside the big barn, separated from the hay-strewn wooden floors and wooden pens, are two ultra-modern easy-clean rooms, one for milking the goats and one for making cheese.  Goat milk easily picks up flavors from its surroundings, Kelly explained; milking in the barn can give it a sourish taste, milking in a clean room retains its natural sweetness.

Farm Camp started in 2015 with a single session.  It was so successful that this year there are two sessions, July 18 to 22 for children from four to six years old and August 8 to 12 for those seven to nine years old.  By mid-June the first session was full; there were still two vacancies for older children.

In preparation for Farm Camp, the settlers’ garden of potatoes and grains and the Native American garden with the traditional threesome of squash, beans and corn have been planted for young campers to weed, water and learn from.

The farm is old, but innovations are welcome.  Don and Shirley Hewett were delighted to abandon kerosene lanterns and hand pumps when electricity was introduced in the 1940s, and Kelly and Anil have established their web site,

Kelly and Anil’s dual mission is to keep Pumpkin Vine Family Farm a working farm and to teach interested people of all ages about their connections to the land.

They came to their lifestyle from academic backgrounds; both hold advanced degrees in agricultural subjects.  Both preferred hands-on farming to the desk jobs that normally follow such an education, although, Kelly says, theoretical knowledge is extremely valuable: they know enough about soil science, chemistry, animal genetics and dozens of other topics to prevent many potential problems and solve most that do arise.

They have not chosen a life that will make them rich, nor an easy life.  Both hold part-time outside jobs, and both sets of parents have helped financially and physically.   Much of their farm equipment is old enough to make Anil’s mechanical skills invaluable.

Especially in spring and summer, farm work begins before sun-up and continues after sunset.  Earlier this spring Kelly went to check on a very pregnant goat named Viola at 3 a.m. and decided she’d better not go back to bed; at 5:30 a.m. she played midwife as Violet was born.

Nonetheless, Kelly found time to write a book about Pumpkin Vine Family Farm.  Birth, Death and a Tractor: Connecting an Old Farm to a New Family, was published last year by Down East Books.   The book was one of three finalists for the John N. Cole award offered by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, and just won third place in the nature category in Foreword Reviews’ national Indiefab competition.  Inspired by and including many of the stories Don and Shirley Hewett told, Birth, Death, and a Tractor alternates between historical sketches and Kelly and Anil’s story from the fall of 2009 through the spring of 2010.

“We’re just carrying on the tradition,” Kelly said.  “It’s a beautiful place and a beautiful connection; it feels like we’re part of the farm.”