Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
The Fahey Farm at Chapel’s Cove, Conception Bay, is a Century Farm but it can trace its origins back more than two centuries! Edward Fahey came to Newfoundland from Ireland in 1789 and set about to acquire land. The house which he built on the land was known as the Summer House because the British Government discouraged permanent settlement. Thus, in the early years of the farm he returned to Ireland each winter. However, eventually settlement was tolerated and in the Plantation Book of 1801, there is the following entry [abbreviated]: Edward Fahey of Harbour Main. Cut and cleared agreeable to Act Wm III…200 yards from East to West, 200 yards from High Water Mark to the south: 8.26 acres. Another plot 40 yards square, one stage, one flake, one house, 2 gardens. There is a story in the family as to how Edward got help to clear his land. He made it known that he would take on the “Irish youngsters” who, sent out to work in the fishery, did not like it and deserted. He let them work on his farm until they moved on to acquire their own land. Edward’s farm passed on through his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. And, in 1998, to the present incumbent, Bernard Lewis, who is the great great grandson of the original Edward Fahey. The farm has always been a commercial farm, producing meat and vegetables beyond the family’s needs to sell both locally and wherever the opportunity arose. For many years, the family sold to the Waterford Hospital in St John’s. “When we used to come out here in the 50s and 60s, in the front of the house it was all crops and vegetables. My two Uncles, Eddy and Pats, they used to supply an awful lot of vegetables – potatoes, turnips, cabbage – to the Waterford.” And on weekends, they would sell their own butter pats, and milk and cream to people from St John’s who would be out for a Sunday drive. Bern admires his ancestors for their resourcefulness. They used every inch of cleared space for crops, they supplied their fuel and construction needs from the woods, they had a wind mill to generate power for the farm. Every drop of milk was used: as milk, as cream, as butter, and, of course, in pig feed. “When the cows were milked at 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, Mary [Bern’s Aunt] had the wood stove going because she pasteurized the milk right on top of the stove….If the milk got too thick they called it “clobber” milk. They used to mix that with boiled potatoes and cabbage to feed the pigs.” Bern still grows fruits and vegetables on Fahey Farm but some of them are a little more exotic than in days past: zucchini, and muskmelons and even kiwi. His great great grandfather would not recognize some of the animals on Bern’s farm, either: llamas. Bern and Linda Lewis are specializing in fibre production. They practice rotational grazing with sheep and llama. “What we are trying to do here is expand on Linda’s flock of sheep because her own statistics have proven the way we use sheep for wool can make more money on this acreage than growing turnips, cabbage, and vegetables.” Linda has created Baynoddy Knitwear, Spinning and Weaving, a craft shop right on the farm. Here she sells a variety of knitwear products, some from her own wool production: skeins of yarn, shawls, sweaters, hats, mittens etc. She also supplies other outlets across the province and has inquiries and orders from afar. Linda points out that “…for this farm, we have to cut back on large vegetable production because there’s no money in that. You don’t grow everything that everyone else is growing.” Bern adds, “You need a niche market to grow.” The resourcefulness of Bern and Linda is in the tradition of Fahey Farm. “It’s a lifestyle that not too many people want. There’s a lot of work that has to be put into it. There’s never a dull moment with us here”, says Bern. But he says it with great satisfaction. For Bern and Linda, the farm is a labour of love. All images and content copyright Agricultural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador
The Agricultural History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador is mandated to collect and honour the history of agriculture in this province and to raise public awareness of agriculture as a theme in the story of the province. In 2005 the Society created the Century Farm Award which is meant to identify, recognize and honour any farm family who have continuously farmed the same land for one hundred years or more and who continue to farm it at the present time. This award represents the pioneering agricultural history of the province: some farms supplied the growing town of St. John’s with milk, produce, meat and forage for livery stables; other farms supplied vegetables and butter to fishing communities by coastal boat; and others sent produce and dressed poultry by rail to the new resource towns, such as Grand Falls. Some of the early farmers came directly from the British Isles and others came to Newfoundland from earlier settlements in Nova Scotia. From their early beginnings these farms have survived as productive agricultural businesses by adapting successfully to changing market demands and changing economic circumstances and by adopting innovative technology. They have kept their land in good heart through as many as half a dozen generations. The Century Farm families have earned the Century Farm Award in recognition for their contribution to the history of our province and for their commitment to agriculture in the province’s future.
Location and History
Not specified (Newfoundland)