A Farm with a View
The slow-food movement, a whole lot of smart management and “location, location, location” are a winning combination that helps the Neale family live a dream at Windmist Farm.
By Jamie Cole | Photos By Jamie Cole
If you’re standing by a fencepost on the western end of Windmist Farm, you can look one way and watch the cars go by on North Road, the one that connects Highway 138 on Rhode Island’s Conanicut Island with downtown Jamestown. You can look the other way and observe a breathtaking view—the same one the folks in those passing cars are snapping their heads around to catch.
It’s an idyllic 40-acre farmstead, striking enough on its own, with its lush pastures and stone-and-shingle barns. To the immediate right is a wildlife preserve, a saltwater marsh owned by the Audubon Society, populated by sandpipers and ospreys.
The backdrop is the Newport Bridge, a blue-green behemoth so forward in the landscape that it seems to deliver motorists right down into the pastures themselves. The island is a short drive from I-95, and the bridge connects Jamestown to Newport, a traditional summer playground for New Englanders.
Long before George and Martha Neale established Windmist, this land was a farm. George has been working cattle here for more than 50 years, since he was just a little kid. George and Martha inherited the land in 2002 when George’s father passed, and in 2007 sold development rights with the help of the Town of Jamestown, USDA, the Champlin Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, preserving its agrarian heritage forever.
George’s full-time work is contracting; he holds two architecture degrees, along with a plant and soil science degree from the University of Rhode Island. Martha’s degree in botany is from URI as well, and she worked as a teacher before coming home for good in 2008 to help run one of the area’s most successful and well-known, local-sourced meat businesses.
Windmist’s location—smack in the middle of the island—makes it ideal for discerning foodies on their way home to Boston and the suburbs of southern Connecticut. The cars on North Road will often slow down just a bit to take in the view.
But it’s the food the farm produces that is worth stopping for.