Clayfield Farm
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Name:           Clayfield Farm

Address:       Phil Norris

                      Deborah Wiggs

                      P.O. Box 17

                      East Blue Hill, Maine


Phone:           207-374-2159



Products and Services:

-organic fruits

-organic vegetables and herbs

-member of Farm Drop



-energy efficient technology

-apprentice program

-piano tuning

What Makes Clayfield Farm Unique?

If one ever has the opportunity to visit

Clayfield Farm in East Blue Hill, there

is a distinct sense that it is a farm that is

run by two farmers who have been exceptionally thoughtful and thorough with

the choices that they have made in their farm plan.  The buildings, gardens, and the workings of the farm all contribute to a top quality operation.  There is a feeling that there is a concerted effort at Clayfield Farm to fully respect and support the land, visitors, the local community, and the people who sign up to become apprentices.

The living and work arrangements for the apprentices who are welcomed at the farm are exceptional.  An individual who applies to be an apprentice at Clayfield Farm signs up to participate in farmwork for two days a week on Tuesday and Wednesday. Not only does the apprentice have one of the loveliest cabins in which to live, they have the chance to learn the basics about organic gardening, woodworking, orchards, masonry, animal husbandry, arboriculture, and many other skills.  Deborah explained that by asking the apprentice to only work two days a week they have the opportunity to seek other employment during the other days. By the way, the apprentice at Clayfield Farm has some additional great amenities such as complimentary firewood to heat their cabin and access to any of the abundant food produced on the farm!

The list of farm products that Deborah and Phil and their apprentices grow is quite lengthy.  For fruits, they grow apples, peaches, strawberries, and raspberries.  For herbs, they offer basil, burdock, cilantro, dill, fennel, and parsley.  In the vegetable department there are arugula, Asian greens, beets, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts,  cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, collards, corn, cucumbers, daikon, edamame soybeans, eggplant, garlic, green beans, horseradish, kale, leeks, lettuce, mixed lettuce, mustard greens, onions, parsnips, peas, peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, radishes, rhubarb, rutabaga, scallions, shallots, spinach, summer squash, tomatoes, tomato seedlings, turnips, winter squash, and zucchini.

What makes the listing of all that is grown at Clayfield Farm even more impressive is the fact that the thirteen-acre farm was originally completely covered in woodlands.  A great amount of time and effort were involved in clearing the land, constructing various structures, and building productive fields.  Phil and Deborah established a large orchard and are raising bees and chickens. A hop arbor was built and they grow several berry crops.  All this takes place on land that was completely covered with trees!

The farmhouse that Phil and Deborah built at Clayfield Farm is highly energy-efficient.

It incorporates solar and photovoltaic elements. There is a rainwater catch system.  A sawmill on the property enables lumber to be produced.  In the winter, the workshop provides a place for all types of furniture making and woodworking projects.

Clayfield Farm takes its name from the clay soil that is found on the property. While clay soil can have some advantages, it also poses many challenges such as a heavy, compact nature, slow drainage, and high acidity. As Phil commented, “ When we first started farming these clay fields, there was not an earthworm to be found.  After many years of adding organic matter, the tilth is improved and we now have abundant earthworms.” An extensive composting and mulching system is in place at Clayfield Farm and manure and organic matter, such as crab waste, is added to the fields.  Their 1948 tractor and 1910 manure spreader help to prepare and fortify the fields.

A commitment to sustainable organic agriculture has been part of Clayfield Farm’s farm plan since its inception.  No chemical pesticides or commercial fertilizers are used.  The farm has enjoyed a long-term relationship with the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. Phil has volunteered to help run the Information Booth area at the Common Ground Fair for many years. He conducted a talk on orchards at this past year’s fair. Deborah signs up for a volunteer shift at the fair, as well.  A great article entitled A Seed Is Planted that Phil wrote  on how he was introduced to gardening appears on the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardener’s website.  It is exciting to see how Phil carried through with his initial interest in farming by majoring in agriculture at the University of New Hampshire.  In addition to running a successful farm, he also serves as the tree warden for the area.

Phil and Deborah have been committed members of the Farm Drop program.  It is an Internet-based farmers market system where customers can choose and order items online from local producers in the Blue Hill area ranging from vegetables and fruits to cheese, bread, locally-grown meat, eggs, and seafood.  Orders are placed on a weekly basis from noon on Sunday through Wednesday morning. Customers pick up their orders at the Blue Hill Wine Shop on Thursday afternoon.  For additional information about this innovative program, check out:

The interest of Clayfield Farm to form ties

with the community has been exhibited through their organization and participation in various community events and groups. Deborah and Phil are members of the Blue Hill Heritage Trust.   Deborah organized a “Not-So-Perfect Garden Tour” several years ago as a fundraiser for repairs for the East Blue Hill Community Building.  Ten different local gardeners agreed to welcome visitors to view their gardens.  Clayfield Farm participated in the event.  When Unique Maine Farms visited the farm this past fall, there was still a wonderful display of perennial and annual flowers in bloom at Clayfield Farm.

This past year Clayfield Farm was a participant in the “A Girl’s Got To Glean”

project.  Volunteers Zoe and Tammy Vu

gathered the extra tomatoes and corn from Clayfield Farm for the gleaning project that provides food to those in need.

Phil and Deborah were founding members of the WERU 89.9 community radio station. 

Phil was the first folk music programmer. It is interesting to listen to their reflections on the history of the station:  Phil, who goes by his radio name of “Cousin Phil,” co-hosts the Saturday Morning Coffee House with Chuck Markowitz, Robin Mendehall, and Jim Bahoosh on Saturday mornings on WERU from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Phil also reaches out to the community in another musical way besides his work with WERU.  He has been a professional piano tuner who has operated the Blue Hill Piano Service for almost thirty years!

Underlying Clayfield Farm is a sense of appreciation for living.  Deborah and Phil make sure that they find time for hiking, bicycling, and cross country skiing.  They appreciate the Great Pond Mountain Wildlands.  Their farm stepped forward in caring for a blind horse and a companion for the horse.  Their dogs, Zanzibar and Greta, are greatly loved. Phil and Deborah have established a cemetery on their property where a green burial of a dear friend has already taken place.  Underlying Clayfield Farm is a sense of kindness and sensitivity to others.

Unique Maine Farms was especially touched by Deb and Phil’s generosity.  They

welcomed us to a stay in their beautiful yurt while we visited farms in the Blue Hill area and treated us to a breakfast at their farm with the best homemade waffles imaginable!

The many ways that Phil Norris and Deborah Wiggs have embraced the local community and promoted organic sustainable agricultural endeavors qualifies them to serve as excellent role models for individuals contemplating a career in farming.  Although Phil and Deborah may not have majored in education, they are exemplary teachers of socially conscious and successful small farm practices.  Anyone who has the opportunity to apprentice with them, are fortunate indeed.

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