Two composting toilets with washstands have been installed at Hilltop Farm, one in the manure shed in front of the chicken coop, and the second, a solar powered unit, in the town open space near the livestock barns. Having a toilet available will allow visitors to spend more time enjoying the community gardens and the wetlands trail.
These toilets are a long way from the “pit” toilets you might be familiar with. To the user, these look like a regular bathroom with an ordinary commode. The magic takes place underneath, where a patented rotating drum mechanism mixes waste with other organic material, microbes, enzymes and fresh air to enable evaporation and odor-free aerobic decomposition. The resulting compost will be used in a separate demonstration garden.
Composting toilets are consistent with Hilltop Farm’s goals of promoting agriculture, conservation, and preservation. They use very little water, no sewage is released into the environment, and they produce nutrient rich compost. The composting toilets have also reduced Hilltops dependence on chemical toilets.
The composting toilet project was made possible by grants from the Amiel P. Zak Public Service Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the J. Gladwin Cannon Trust.
Farm House Restoration
In 2014 the Town of Suffield secured a $250,000 grant though the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) to help The Friends restore two of the farm houses on the farmstead.
Restoring houses is not exaxctly the same as renovating them. The intent of the grant is that these the Herdsmans house and Administrators house be restored as closely as possible to their original condition circa 1913.
Both houses have had their roofs replaced and their chimneys repaired. The 100 year old windows in the Herdsmans house have each been painstakingly restored. Damaged siding has been replaced and both houses have been scraped and painted.
Now the focus moves indoors where plaster walls will be repaired, hardwood floors and trim refinished, and the original cast iron steam radiators are being cleaned and put back into service.
Plans are to have work on the Herdsmans house completed this summer. The Administrators house will take a little longer.
Farmstand and Ice Creamery
In 2013 The Friends began work renovating part of the lower level of the big white barn as a three season farmstand and creamery. Completion of this project is expected to bring a steady stream of visitors to the farmstead from Spring through Fall.
The farmstand will sell products from Hilltop and nearby farms. In addition to herbs, sunflowers, honey, berries and other products that can be grown on the property, we plan to sell dried herbs, soup and dip mixes; jams, jellies, pickles, chutneys, and honey; apple cider and apple cider vinegar. We also expect to offer crafts created by local artisans.
The creamery will serve gelato made at Hilltop Farm using milk and cream purchased from local farms. In addition to favorite flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, the creamery will feature flavors from seasonal fruit. Guests will be able to enjoy their treats at outdoor tables overlooking a children’s play area and the agricultural fields of Suffield.