Just off of I-83 in Sparks, Maryland, Springfield Farm occupies 67 acres of pastures and woodlands. It is home to chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, lambs, pigs, cows, and the Smith, Lafferty, and Webb families. About 13 years ago, David Smith, the family patriarch, moved back to the United States after traveling with the military and decided to start farming in the way that made sense to his family. The farm has been in the Smith family since the 1600s and has been farmed in many ways over the years, but it is now a free-range pasture farm. What started as a few chickens has grown into a successful family business that operates a farm store, delivers to restaurants, and sells at farmers markets all around Maryland. Springfield Farm sells farm fresh eggs as well as chicken, turkey, and many cuts of beef, pork, and lamb. They partner with Trickling Springs Creamery, a local dairy farm, and Taharka Brothers Ice Cream.
Smith’s two daughters, Valerie and Catherine, both live on the farm year-round with their families. Valerie, her husband Doug, and their children Danielle and David make up the Lafferty clan, while Catherine and her daughters Rachel and Jennifer represent the Webbs. Springfield Farm has been a part of the “Eat Local Challenge” at St. Mary’s College for 5 years. “It’s exciting to see schools trying to work with farms and provide local product because people are becoming more aware of where their food is coming from,” said Valerie Lafferty.
“We found out about the ‘Eat Local Challenge’ for St. Mary’s through Goucher College…which is served by Bon Appetit Managment Company as well,” Lafferty said. “They referred us to some of their other locations and we got a call from St. Mary’s.” After working out the logistics of driving the three hours to deliver to the college, Springfield farm began to make a contribution to the table. This year, the Bon Appetit prepared eggs, dairy, sausages, pork shoulder, bacon, and beef tenderloin. “They have really increased their order every year to make it worth our while, but also offer a really good product for the students and the families to enjoy.” All of the animals raised on Springfield Farm are free-range pastured, which means that they are never caged and are outside all day, only brought inside to protect them at night. “It is important for the meat to be labeled ‘free-range pastured because you know that the animals are actually outside on fresh grass as much a possible, getting clean air, and being treated better and healthier,” Lafferty said. They have opted out of being referred to as “organic” because getting certified is a huge expense on small businesses and the closest organic feed producer is in the Midwest, which would means that they would be wasting fossil fuels by shipping it so far.
The families raise and care for all of the animals on the property, as well as collecting and washing the eggs that are sold in the store and to clients. Lafferty said, “Most of the time we’re at the farm. It’s hard to really take a vacation from farming because when you’re animal farming you have animals constantly and you can’t get the chickens to take a day off from laying eggs or animals to not need to be fed one day…it keeps us busy year round.” Danielle Lafferty, Valerie’s daughter, is currently a junior attending St. Mary’s. “We really enjoy having our daughter here and it gives us an even deeper connection to the school. It’s exciting because one of the reasons that she chose St. Mary’s was because the food company that works with the school is someone who she knows and trusts can provide local ingredients,” said Valerie Lafferty.