1.Four_generations_of_Clays 2.Haying_Old_Farm 4.Papa_Big_Lake_just_built 5.Rows_of_lettuce 7.Old_Green_Barn 9.sunrise

Baby RacoonOur dream and our intention has always been to preserve this land as a wildlife sanctuary and as a refuge from the stresses of everyday life that time in nature can so uniquely provide. This has never changed.

Now, with the steady loss of open land available for riding and the scarcity of places to school cross country, we also want to make Ashland available as a place to ride in the open, to condition and to school. At the same time, to take care of the farm, the land and the wildlife, we need to open it in a way that preserves Ashland's sense of tranquility and protects it from the effects of careless use and overuse.

Our solution is to open the farm through a membership program. Through membership we hope to attract a community of riders for whom Ashland becomes a kind of home, a refuge to protect as well as enjoy.

Initially membership was offered to those who already knew Ashland, who had schooled or shown here. Over time  membership is becoming more widely available, primarily through word of mouth, to others who, we hope, will both appreciate and help protect what is here.

Riding Membership:  What It Offers

Old BarnAshland Farm has been in the Clay/Calhoun families for five generations. It has 430 acres of mixed woodlands and pastures, with wetlands, rock outcroppings, creeks, lakes, and miles of trails throughout. A natural wildlife sanctuary, over the years it has become a refuge for friends and family as well. Our work is to make this beautiful land sustainable and to protect it for the future.

FROM COTTON TO CATTLE

Originally the farm was almost entirely in cotton. By the late nineteen forties, however, it was "cottoned out"- depleted, eroded, and unprofitable. To restore it, Lawson Calhoun Sr. and his father-in-law, Dr. Grady Clay, decided to convert to cattle. Pastures were planted, lakes created, and gullies filled in; it began to flourish. Then in 1968 land taxes tripled, eliminating any profit. The cattle and 2000 of the 2400 acres were sold. The remaining pastures were leased to a neighbor, but the house and lakes continued as a weekend refuge for the family.

FIELDS OF GREENS

By 1984 it was time either to sell, or make the farm work. In response, Calhoun's son, Clay, came back to experiment with growing specialty produce (niche market farming) as he had been doing in California. His work took hold. For the first 20 years Ashland Farm produced a wide variety of field produce including many varieties of lettuces, heirloom potatoes, tomatoes chosen year by year for flavor, as well as herbs and other produce. In 2000 we began experimenting with "micro greens," at the request of several local chefs. Micro greens became increasingly popular, and demanded more and more of our time. In 2005, we allowed to field to rest, and -- at least temporarily -- focused almost exclusively on micro greens.

A PLACE FOR HORSES: For years we have also wanted horses to be part of the farm's long-term structure. In 2001 with the help of Pam McNair, our opening barn manager, and Ann Haller, our resident coach, advisor and trainer, we were able to make this dream reality. In January 2002 we opened The Grey Barn as a boarding, teaching, and competition facility specializing in Eventing. We now have a separate competition facility with dressage and jumping arenas next to our Cross Country courses, and we are now well on our way into the world of horses. For more information and for photos please go to our Event Facility.

We are looking forward to other ways of sharing Ashland as the sanctuary it is, perhaps including a small retreat cabin, or cabins, in the woods near one of the lakes.

lawson
Lawson Calhoun, Sr.