Phillip and Lisa Webster of North Star Sheep Farm have lived in Windham, Maine, since 1997. Both side of their families have been raising sheep in Maine since before the turn of the 20th century, providing breeding stock, meat lambs, and support to the sheep industry. So owning a farm was always going to be a good fit for Phillip and Lisa!
The couple began sheep farming in 1984 with a foundation flock of Hampshire and Suffolk sheep. In 1997, they grew into a pure bred sheep operation with the purchase of the Stevens Farm, which has been a working farm since the mid-1700s. With its beautiful, sprawling fields and woodlands, the Websters are committed to keeping their 1,000-acre property a working part of the rural landscape, raising around 1,850 AWA-certified Suffolk and Hampshire sheep at any time. The sheep also graze at nearby 625-acre Collyer Brook Farm in New Gloucester, which is protected by Maine Farmland Trust and sits adjacent to the site of the first water powered woolen mill in the U.S., as well as other rented grazing.
Phillip and Lisa are recognized as prestigious breeders of pure bred sheep both locally and nationally, Lisa works as the Northeast Director of the United States Suffolk Association and both Phillip and Lisa are on the board of directors for the Maine Sheep Breeders Association. They are also very active in furthering the development of sustainable farming practices in Maine.
The Websters are passionate about pasture-based management: “Our mission is to be natural, ethical and sustainable. All are equally important,” Lisa says. “Each sheep is free to graze in the comfort of their flock in wide-open spaces that is their natural environment. We also raise our sheep to the highest ethical standards. All our animals are pasture-raised. They graze freely their entire lives and mature on a natural growth schedule.” The sheep are raised entirely on pasture and their diet is occasionally supplemented with wholesome grains. They are never fed routine antibiotics, hormones or animal by-products. “We understand the importance of the health of our livestock, the preservation of the land that feeds us, and the wellbeing of the workers who help bring our product to market,” Lisa says. “Our ongoing mission is to not only manage, but enhance the lives of our sheep, the richness of our soil, and the experience of our employees.”
The sheep are regularly moved to new grass growth throughout the season, ensuring they have access to the most nutritious pasture, preventing the build-up of potential diseases and internal parasites, and maximizing natural health and immunity. Non-electrical fencing is used to protect wetlands and minimize soil erosion.
When asked why they decided to pursue AWA certification for their sheep, Lisa explained, “We treat all our animals with the utmost respect, and we want our customer to know that so they can feel good about their food source. The animals here are happier and healthier and ultimately provide a better quality product than commercially-raised lamb.” Looking to the future, the Websters plan to continue as Maine’s longest operating sustainable sheep farm. They are also looking at developing sheep dairy and fiber products, as well expanding into pasture-raised pork.
North Star Sheep Farm is the only local supplier of lamb to Whole Foods Markets in the North Atlantic region. Their lamb is also carried in Savenor’s Market in Boston and Cambridge, as well as many fine restaurants in the area, such as Alden & Harlow, Hugo’s, and Buck’s Naked Barbeque.
For more information about North Star Sheep Farm visit www.northstarsheepfarm.comor email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow North Star Sheep Farm on Facebook for farm news and details about upcoming events.