Started in 1907, Bohanan Farm has been in the Bohanan family for five generations. The business began simply–farming with horses and producing just a bit more than what the family needed to survive. Today
it has evolved into a modern farm, utilizing computerized farming technology to provide dairy, beef and vegetables to the local community.
Lester Bohanan Buys Bohanan Farm
The Industrial Revolution, young love and a dedicated work ethic–the story of Bohanan Farms is truly an all-American classic.
In the early 1900’s Lester Bohanan worked a team of horses to help maintain the railroad running from Concord to Claremont. Eventually, railroad maintenance led Lester to Contoocook Village, where he met Blanche Eaton. In 1907, he bought the farm across the river from Blanche. They married three years later.
Ivan and Ashton grew up to marry sisters (Jeanette and Priscilla), continuing the family tradition of working and raising their children at Bohanan Farm.
When the family wasn’t enjoying their time together–playing baseball, competing in ping-pong tournaments and flying kites on the hill–they were working hard to revolutionize milk production. Ivan in particular, was a forward-thinking man with an insatiable desire to modernize the farm. This led to the construction of a new barn housing 40–50 cows and purchasing land to add to the farm. The family also replaced their bull with the process of artificial insemination, pushing milk production to new heights.
Glenn and Adele’s daughter, Heather, is the fourth generation of her family to return to the farm. When rapid changes began overtaking the dairy industry, Heather, her husband Jamie, Glenn and Adele embraced them wholeheartedly.
They began by integrating the use of a “mixer wagon” and drive-through barn to modernize feeding. This allowed them to create a total mixed ration of food (TMR) which balanced the cows’ diet and increased milk production.
They also added a new milking parlor that could milk 20 cows at a time, purchased and rented additional land, hired new employees and implemented a bigger manure system. More cattle were added, growing the herd from 100 mature cows and 85 young stock to 240 mature cows and 220 young stock. The cows were being milked three times a day instead of two, and milk production was at an all-time high.
Contoocook Creamery Opened
In 2011, Bohanan Farm launched its own brand, Contoocook Creamery. Contoocook Creamery services central and southern New Hampshire with high-quality cuts of beef and local, fresh milk in reusable glass and plastic bottles.
The creamery prides itself on maintaining happy and healthy cows, capable of producing quality and consistent milk. It's a guarantee that’s even mentioned in Contoocook Creamery’s tagline: “Drink lots, the cows will make more!”
The Family Business Begins
The Bohanans settled into life on the farm, raising their three children Ivan, Betty and Ashton. On their way to school, the children would cross Contoocook River over the steel arch bridge, leaving cans full of milk on the railroad siding for the train to deliver to Concord Dairy. Thus began a lasting family business for generations to come.
Ivan and Priscilla’s son, Glenn, followed in his father’s footsteps, majoring in dairy science at the University of New Hampshire before returning to the family business.
After Glenn married his college sweetheart Adele, the farm began expanding again. Glenn, Adele and Ivan bought the land across the road, adding to the farm’s acreage. With the new acreage, they built a heifer barn and added a new milking parlor. They made advancements via a new liquid manure storage system, retooled equipment and switched from Ford to Massey Ferguson tractors. The labor-intensive harvesting of dry-baled hay gave way to chopping grass silage, and the concrete tower silos were replaced with bunker silos that could be filled and emptied with a loader tractor. All in all, it was an exciting time of growth and progress.
The financial crisis of 2008 presented a challenge to the Bohanans, but it was a challenge they met head-on.
The primary goal was to stabilize the farm. To do this, the Bohanans decided to sell a conservation easement, which would prevent their land from ever being developed for anything other than agriculture and forestry.
After two years of diligent work, a coalition was formed including the town of Hopkinton, Five Rivers Conservation Trust, private donors, Natural Conservation Service and the state of New Hampshire. The coalition worked closely with the family, raising funds and educating the residents of Hopkinton on the conservation easement and its benefits.
In December 2009, a special town meeting was held to vote on whether or not the town would purchase the conservation easement. It was the largest meeting in town history, with more than two-thirds of the voters in favor of investing in the easement. As a result, Bohanan farmland is now preserved as open space and remains accessible to the public forever.
Today, Heather Bohanan Robertson, her husband Jamie, and their three children (Si, Nate and Bram) own the farm and take great pride in working it.
Just like the Bohanan family, the farm has continued to grow and now consists of more than 440 acres of owned and 300 acres of rented land, all nestled between three rivers. It is home to 120 milk cows (producing more than 16,000 8-ounce servings of milk per day) and a herd of 40 beef cows (creating over 10,000 pounds of beef per year). The farm’s offerings have also continued to expand with the latest addition of sweet corn and other seasonal vegetables.
Bohanan Farm’s mission is: “To run a farm business that is progressive and diverse, which offers a profitable and positive atmosphere for animals, employees, owners and the environment.”