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Rotating the crops

Area farms diversify in trying economy

Above, cattle munch on grain at Auburn’s Hillcrest Farm. Below, a customer at Hillcrest’s flower section browses among the blooms. Teresa A. Franco. (click for larger version)
June 25, 2009
On a recent overcast afternoon, people could be seen browsing the selections of flowers and other plants available at Hillcrest Farm on Millbury Street in Auburn, with the occasional "moo" in the distance.

The scene has become a less frequent one over the years. Currently, Auburn only has two farms, including Hillcrest Farm, which is also referred to as the "Farmer's Daughter" on the retail portion of the farm. Cows roam a part of the the spread, making thsemlves known to their human visitors. The other farm is Martin Crest Farm on Kelly Street, which is partially in Oxford. But this wasn't always the case.

"There was a time when Auburn had many, many farms and market gardens," Town Historian Ken Ethier said. "Auburn was all farms because they would supply Worcester with a lot of vegetables."

Ethier said by the 1920s, the amount of farms in Auburn — as well as many towns in New England — began to dwindle. Ethier attributed the decline to people not wanting to work hard.

See Thursday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage.

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