The Walter Chards were first introduced to Cazenovia in 1906, when they visited Mr. Chard’s oldest brother Thornton Chard, an architect, and his wife, Ethel Barclay Chard. The next year Walter Chard purchased two farms and 350 acres and began drawing up expansive plans for what was to become his dream house and farm. The building of the main house at Meadowood Farms was begun in 1908, and completed in 1910. A barn for 50 fifty cows was built, also a horse barn, and another to hold hay. The old Adams farm on Chard Road, formerly called Adams Road, was utilized as a chicken farm, with 4000 chickens. Water for Meadowood Farms was piped in from the lake up to a 20,000 gallon water tank at the top of the hill.
Across the road from the Adams farm house was an old apple orchard that yielded a substantial commercial crop of varietal apples that hadbeen developed in conjunction with Cornell University. Potatoes were also grown commercially in the early years. The Chards, and their two sons, Tom and Chester, were very much focused, as they put it, on building a “sustainable, scientific, model farm”. The array of livestock was quite encompassing…
4000 White Leghorn chickens, whose eggs were shipped to New York City, fetching 55 cents a dozen in 1915!
an assortment of Rhode Island Reds, and White Peking ducks
Holsteins from Holland that were used to start the dairy herd, which numbered forty to fifty
Percheron horses, the foundation stock of which had been imported from France
the 1914 Meadowood Farms brochure also mentions White Chesire pigs that were smoked in the hay barn
In addition to dairy products, pork, and eggs, Meadowood Farms grew its’ own hay and grain for its’ livestock and cut corn green for silage to fill the silos of the cow barn, providing green food in winter when outdoor grazing was impossible.
The Chard family truly had a vision of “local, sustainable farming”, and the farm remained in the family until the mid-1950’s when it was sold to the Winns, who lovingly cared for the property, which had wound down its’ farming operations. In the late 1960’s a prominent local family bought the estate from the Winns, and Meadowood Farms became the home to a large family. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Meadowood Farms was abandoned in the mid-1980’s, and was left to fall to ruin, complete with its’ beautiful Olmstead gardens, and there was a considerable movement afoot by the town of Cazenovia to raze the main house.
While in search of an historic property on which to start a “sustainable, model farm”, Marc Schappell and Tom Anderson stumbled across Meadowood Farms visiting Cazenovia from New York City for a wedding one summer weekend in 1995. Little did they know they would leave Cazenovia that weekend wedded themselves to Meadowood Farms… and thus began a long journey to first reclaim and historically restore the main house, followed by re-appending land parcels that had been divided off over the years from the farm, along with buying new, contiguous land that once had been a part of the two-century-old Cook Farm. Dave Cook's wife Ellie still lives, in fact, on what had originally been Dave's great, great, grandfather’s land. Over time, a number of barns on the farm have been re-purposed and restored accordingly, including a late 1700’s “English threshing” barn that was been dismantled piece by piece and moved to the farm as part of the “new” complex of barns.
The farm is vibrant today, perhaps in many of the same ways it was vibrant 100 years ago for the Chards, and now encompasses 225 acres, bordered by state preserved lands. In 2002 Meadowood Farms began to breed what became a nationally-recognized herd of Belted Galloway cattle, and today continue to raise a herd of Belted Galloway steers. In 2003 Meadowood Farms joined forces with Bee Tolman to continue developing a pre-eminent flock of purebred East Fresian ewes and a creamery that has produced some of the most-awarded artisan cheeses in the US. And the farm continues to sell its all-natural pasture-raised beef and lamb, as well as yarn spun from its own lambs' wool.
It takes many hands to make Meadowood Farms viable, and we have an enviable farm crew. Quincy Wool came to the farm in 2014, and now joins Bee Tolman in the management of the farm. And this year we are blessed to have two more able-bodied and good-spirited farm workers, Will McCrink and Fiona Flynn.