Peter Bolduc and his wife, Kathie, run Harvest Hill Farms, a rapidly growing business in Mechanic Falls and Poland. In January, the Oxford Hills Chamber of Commerce gave Bolduc its Rising Star Award for growth in recent years, including a market and deli on Route 26 and his foray into the area of agri-tainment.

When the Bolducs bought a Mechanic Falls farm in 1991, there was no plan to make a business of it. Agriculture was a hobby, Bolduc says, and the Bolducs shared their range-fed meat with friends and family. Now, he sells range-fed meat, maple syrup, firewood, baked goods and other products from his farms in Mechanic Falls and Poland. In the fall, the Poland farm hosts agriculture-based entertainment like Pumpkinland, which includes a haunted hayride and fall harvest tours. Now, Bolduc is working on making Pumpkinland an all-summer venue called Field of Dreams.

Name: Peter Bolduc

Age: 45

What’s going on on the farm right now? This time of year, we’re ramping up for all the farm projects and starting to prioritize them. We’ve got another acquisition that we’re looking into right now. We’ve been growing our beef and our poultry business consistently over the last few years and right now is a challenge for them. So, we either need to build barns or buy barns to put them in.

When you bought the farm, it wasn’t intended to be a business. Oh, no. It was just a residence.

Did you grow up farming? No, I grew up five miles outside of Rumford.We had small animals as a kid, but nothing like real agriculture.

So you had to teach yourself? It’s a natural curiosity. A lot of it was self-taught, making my own mistakes at my own expense.

When did you start doing events like Pumpkinland? One thing I recognized, and I’m not saying I’m a visionary or anything along those lines, but I did recognize that agricultural entertainment was a trend that was growing across the country. The intent was to create agricultural entertainment venues that would drive people to our farm markets to introduce them to what we’re doing, so they would have reason to come back and visit us the other 51 weeks out of the year. As luck would have it, the Chipman family had grown the Pumpkinland business to a certain point, and had grown beyond the scale they wanted to manage it at. We were able to come to a deal where we bought Pumpkinland and moved it up to Route 26. This is our third year with the corn maze and it is our third year with the haunted hayride.

When you first started farming, did you see local and range-fed meat as a growing trend at the time? I’ve been watching what’s been happening with agribusiness. The Monsantos of the world, and the horror shows that have been happening because of the size of some of these businesses, and I have appreciated the fact that there is a niche in the market for someone to create a value-added product for an educated, health-conscious consumer. . . . I like to think that the way the larger section of the (consumer) market thinks is that we don’t want growth hormones in our food. We don’t want any antibiotics in them.

Are there any other products you’d like to make at the farm? I think for us it’s not a question of going wider with what we’re doing but just going deeper into the existing market. There’s so much more. We want to create more agricultural venues over on the Route 26 property. One of the things we’re working on this year is opening a theme park called Field of Dreams. It will give families a place to go in the summertime to give families the same cost-effective style as Pumpkinland, where you pay a small fee, you’re in the park for the day. It’s an agricultural setting, so the kids can see the different farm animals and have some of the entertainment stuff there. My dream, I guess, is to have something that would be . . . what Disney does with their entertainment but to do it in a very agricultural, farming setting.

What kind of attractions are you thinking of? It’s funny, sometimes, the simpler, the better. Things like our fort of hay bales where kids literally just go in there and raise holy hell and jump around from one bail to the other. We’ve got a peddle cart track and we’re putting in a large jumping pillow. We’re going to try to bring some exotic animals into it. In New England, typical dairy farms have cows and stuff like that. We’re going to get a couple of exotic animals in as well. We’re looking right now at zebras, camels and stuff like that.

Do you have a product you’re proudest of? I can tell you the beef and the chicken — there’s no comparison with what you’re going to buy at the grocery store. Our hamburg, our chicken and our steaks are head and shoulders above anything you’re going to find at your average grocery store.


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