Hidden Mountain Farm
Christian Stovall ended up in the Berkshires because of Tanglewood, but his connection to the famed music venue wasn’t because of the picnics like most; his dad is a bassist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. During his teenage summers in the Berkshires, Christian began working with Sean Stanton at North Plain Farm and learned about animal husbandry. Inspired by the experience he continued studying agriculture at the University of Vermont.
After graduating he worked at a farm in Middlebury where he learned about rotational grazing and the ability to build soil organic matter and sequester carbon through grass management with small ruminants. He thought it the perfect form of animal agriculture - the animals are relatively small, an operation wouldn’t be capital intensive or require much machinery, and the rolling hills of the New England landscape were perfectly suited for grazing.
Three years ago, Christian settled in the Berkshires permanently and founded Hidden Mountain Farm, a sheep farm. Christian focuses on grass fed lamb production in the summer and breeding in the winter. The ewes Christian keeps through the winter are registered Border Leicesters, a dual purpose breed that has proven hardy enough for New England winters, has high quality wool, and great meat.
What has enabled Christian to scale up his business is also dual-purpose. He secured a contract to graze his sheep under solar panels for grass management on a 10-acre site in Great Barrington. It’s a win-win for both parties. Instead of using fossil-fuel intensive practices, the owner eliminates the need to mow with mechanical means and Christian gets access to land to feed his sheep. At his home base in New Marlborough, Christian has introduced a new member to the flock - Benson, a 4-month-old Maremma livestock guardian dog that will protect the sheep from predators like coyotes.
Hidden Mountain Farm lamb can be found locally on shelves at the Berkshire Food Coop and on the menu at local restaurants like Cantina 229 and the Prairie Whale. To those who find lamb to be gamey, he assures that the breeds he raises produces a more mild taste that is universally appealing. Christian’s favorite way to cook lamb is to braise a boneless leg rubbed with a paste of garlic, olive oil, rosemary, paprika, salt and pepper.
Though he has been active in the local agricultural scene for some time, as a new farmer and business owner, he has been encouraged by the sense of community. “It’s all about building relationships along the food chain” Christian says - producers, land owners, processors, and consumers. To that end, he believes BerkShares represent a piece of the Berkshire community that he loves and respects so much - growing the local economy through collaboration.
At only 25 years old, Christian has very intentional goals for Hidden Mountain Farm. He plans to stick with sheep, which he understands so well, sharing that he’d “rather be good at one thing than decent at many things.” He is clear about work-life balance and is in it to have fun. Part of that fun is delighting his social media followers with cute lamb and puppy photos. Follow him on Instagram @hiddenmtnfarm.