Homesteaders come together in Greenfield

Al Lumnah addresses the crowd.

Al Lumnah addresses the crowd. —STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Hannah, age 6, a visitor from Connecticut, poses with a chick.

Hannah, age 6, a visitor from Connecticut, poses with a chick. —STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Children visit the chicken tent.

Children visit the chicken tent. —STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

Children play in the corn pool.

Children play in the corn pool. —STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 09-11-2023 4:15 PM

Homesteaders from all over New England and upstate New York gathered at Greenfield’s Oak Park on Saturday and Sunday for the Homesteaders of New England (H.O.N.E.) second fall gathering.

Jack Pollner, Greenfield resident and founder of the gathering, was happy with the turnout despite the heat and storms on Friday night.

“It was a great event,” Pollner said. “Every year we learn a lot and meet a lot of great people.”

H.O.N.E., which has more than 6,000 members from across New England and New York, provides networking and know-how for families and small farmers seeking to provide their own food and make a living off the land. Headliners from this year’s gathering community included Morgan Gold of Gold Shaw Farm, Al Lumnah of Lumnah Acres and Eli Mack from Kencove Acres. All three are popular homesteading gurus on YouTube.

Pollner and his wife Jackie run the Mindful Homesteaders YouTube page and sell farm products from their Greenfield farm, including herbal soaps and forest-pastured pork and chicken.

“We love Jack’s videos, ” said a visitor from Stafford. “They’re really funny and helpful, especially the ones about the pigs.”

Dave Thimmel and Marcus Dube of Greenfield’s Oak Park Committee reported brisk lunch sales.

“We served pulled pork to over 200 people in 45 minutes and sold out,” Thimmel said. “It’s been a great day for us.”

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Emmanuel Mendez of 2Good 2 Be Baked homemade baked goods was thrilled with sales.

“Lots of people have come through; it’s been awesome,” he said. 

Morgan Gold’s talk, “Having a Farm Won’t Make You Happy,” was the most well-attended event of the weekend. Several hundred homesteaders, many with small children in tow, laughed appreciatively at Gold’s tales of farming in northern Vermont. Bonnie Wells, a volunteer from Greenwich, N.Y., was working her second gathering, attending to toddlers in the children’s activity tent.

“It’s been a great crowd and you always learn something new,” she said. “There is always more to learn with farming.”

While H.O.N.E. had existed as an organization for years, the group had lapsed temporarily due to issues with Facebook. Pollner revived the group in 2020, created an LLC in 2022 and has grown the organization to over 6,300 members. Last year’s gathering was Pollner’s first attempt to gather H.O.N.E.’s online community together in person. Pollner, who is firmly anti-political, feels homesteaders have enough in common for the group to transcend politics.

“Our goals don’t align evenly with either the left or the right. The changes we would like to see, as far as homesteading laws and policies, they’re a common-sense approach that falls right in the middle,” Pollner said. “I’m not looking to tell the outside world what they can’t and can’t do with other issues; it’s none of my business. What we’re interested in is making small farming and homesteading more accessible for people who want to do that. It’s about homesteading, first and foremost, how to connect to the land, make a living off the land and learn from one another.”

For information about H.O.N.E., go to newenglandhomesteaders.com. Mindful Homesteaders is at mindfulhomestead.com.