HOME PAGEUnique_Maine_Farms.html
Sandy River Farms
Farm StoreSandy_River_Farm_Store.html
Produce StandSandy_River_Produce_Stand.html
Corn Maize
and PumpkinsSandy_River_Corn_Maize.html

Name:             Sandy River Farms

                        Herbert (Bussie) and Brenda York

Location:        560 Farmington Falls Road

                         Farmington, Maine 04938


Phone:              207-778-3835

Website:            www.sandyriverfarms.com

Email:               tzacker@umd.edu


Sandy River Farm Market Facebook Page

Products and Services:

-dairy farm

-organic milk

-farm store (year-round)

-whole corn and oats


-grass hay

-clover/grass mix hay


-custom grain sales

-organic grain

-dairy grain  16% three ton mix

-grower mash  14% one ton

-heifer grain  14% one ton mix

-layer mash  18%


-produce stand - July-September

-corn maize

-pumpkin patch


What Makes Sandy River Farms So Unique?

Herbert “Bussie” and Brenda Voter York of Sandy River Farms in Farmington both hailed from local farming families. Bussie had graduated from the University of Maine at Orono with a degree in Agricultural Engineering in 1958.  In a state where so many farmers have been forced to give up their dairy operations due to the higher prices of farming and the lower costs paid to farmers for their milk,  Bussie and Brenda have been able to persevere and even expand their farm and develop their own milk processing facility. 

Bussie and Brenda took over the York family’s  “King of the Valley Farm” that was situated on the property of the old Jones Farm in 1961. Bussie recalled how he had saved some money that he had earned from 4-H projects and from cutting lumber in the early days. He expressed his appreciation to his father for being a great teacher who even though he never went beyond the eighth grade in a one-room school, had a Master’s degree in common sense that proved very helpful in the transition to running the farm.  Their farm operation now goes by the name of Sandy River Farms and Bussie and Brenda’s successful journey in agriculture has evolved through hard work, diversification, and a commitment to their work and community.

Bussie’s father and mother, Linwood and Lila York,  had operated their three-hundred acre farm in Farmington since 1952.  They raised Jersey cows and Linwood had delivered milk and cream in glass bottles on ice in the local area for fourteen years.  They also raised over one hundred Hereford beef cows.  When Bussie and Brenda began managing the farm, they decided to raise Holsteins and milking shorthorns.  Over the years they experimented with a wide range of crops on their fertile alluvial soil including sugar beets, dry beans, turnips, beet greens, oats, and sweet corn.  They grew corn and snap beans for Richard Gould’s Franklin Farm Products canning enterprise.

Their three daughters, Terry, Tammy, and Trudy, all helped around the farm.  Trudy’s husband, Erik Johnson, is now the farm manager.  Bussie commented that he has become an integral part of the farm operation with his exceptional mechanical skills. Erik and the other farm employees are responsible for the milking of ninety organic Holsteins and Milking Shorthorns.  They also care for over one hundred young and dry stock.

The Yorks’ willingness to be open-minded in their farm operation has proven to be a powerful factor in their success.  Bussie and Brenda, along with son-in-law and daughter Erik and Trudy Johnson, studied farming trends and could visualize the market’s growing interest in organic production.  Always being concerned about their farm’s soil health, they began focusing on organic production practices.  They presently grow organic soybeans, corn, wheat, barley, and oats.  Their vegetables and corn are sold on a wholesale basis to Hannaford and several other nearby stores.  Around the last week of July through September, Bussie and Brenda operate a vegetable farm stand at the corner of Route 2 in Farmington from Monday through Saturday from 9:30 to 5 p.m.  Here they sell over four thousand dozen ears of sweet corn and an assortment of vegetables.

Bussie and Brenda’s  interest in soil conservation practices and natural resources protection has resulted in their being honored with many county, state, and even national awards.  In 1991, they were honored as a “Maine Good Earth Family” by the National Endowment for Soil and Water Conservation.  They were one of the featured farmers in the Meet Your Farmer film produced and directed by Cecily Pingree and Jason Mann for Maine Farmland Trust.

Being self-sufficient in their farm operation has always

been a top priority for the Yorks.  They grow about ninety percent of the feed for their cows.  They sell  excess grain to other farmers who use it to feed their cattle, pigs, goats, horses, chickens, etc.  They will grind and mix corn, oats, and barley (when available) and soybeans for custom made grains.  They sell whole corn and oats in fifty pound bags or 1500 lb. bulk canvas bags that can be loaded on the purchaser’s truck.  Organic grain is also available for sale.

In 2013, the Yorks  grew twenty-five thousand bushels of corn and ninety tons of soybeans. Their interest in being innovative and collaborative with other farms encouraged them to pursue a grant for the shared use of a grain roaster for area farmers.  Bussie explained that roasting soybeans changes the protein molecules in the soybeans and enables them to travel more slowly through the cow’s digestive system and doubles the amount that can be absorbed. 

The Yorks’ interest in experimenting with innovative technologies was illustrated by the corn stove business that they formerly operated. In 2006, Bussie and Brenda were the recipients of a $15,510 federal grant from the USDA and Rural Development for an energy-efficient corn storage system and drying system. The Yorks also successfully applied for a grant for a seasonal high tunnel from the USDA National Resources Conservation Service in 2011. The family  presently grow tomatoes and cucumbers during the summer months in the high tunnel and cold weather crops in the cooler months.

Their expansion of the farm operation over the years has been quite impressive.  The original three-hundred acre farm is now part of a farm operation that has amazingly incorporated land from fifteen separate farms.  The Yorks presently manage 600 acres of land in crops, hay, and pastures.  Because approximately one thousand additional acres of their farm is forested, they run a logging business. 

The bond that the Yorks have formed with their local community and the statewide farming community is strong.  Bussie has served on the Farmington Planning Board, the Maine Soil and Water Commission, the Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District, and six years on the Board of the National Association of Conservation Districts.  They have dedicated their efforts to supporting 4-H Dairy programs, the Grange, the Franklin County Extension Association, the Maine Farm Bureau, the Maine State Dairy Shows, and tractor and beef clubs.  In 1995, Brenda York was named into the Agricultural Hall of Fame at the Skowhegan State Fair, and three years later in 1998, Bussie received the same honor.  In 2009, the town of Farmington dedicated their Town Report to Bussie and Brenda for all of their contributions to agriculture.

Furthering an awareness of farming has been a top priority for the Yorks.  They welcome school tours to their farm and participate in various Maine agricultural fairs including Fryeburg, Bangor, Skowhegan, Blue Hill, and Farmington.  They also show at the Eastern States Big E each year and have shown their Shorthorns in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Toronto and New Brunswick, Canada; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Columbus, Ohio.  Five years ago they came up with the idea of creating a gigantic corn maize in the fall on a twelve-acre area of their farm.  Each year a company from Utah has helped with the design of the corn maize.  This past year the maize was inscribed with a tribute to the University of Maine at Farmington for celebrating their 150th anniversary. The corn maize project has included a petting zoo, pick your own pumpkin field, a cow train, hay rides, and areas for children to jump off hay bales and try their skills at balancing on a log.  In the winter for the past ten years, the Yorks have also welcomed the Annual Farmington Dog Sled races at their farm.

The York family led by Erik and Trudy Johnson opened a Sandy River Farm Market at 561 Farmington Falls Road, across from their dairy barn, where fresh-picked farm produce, farm fresh milk, homemade ice cream, baked goods, and gifts can be purchased.  Products from over fifteen different local farms are sold at the store. Trudy Johnson, the daughter of Bussie and Brenda, and her husband, Erik Johnson, run the store. When Erik is not lending a hand at the store, he is managing the farm and overseeing the dairy operation where organic unprocessed milk is bottled right at the farm.  Pasteurized whole and skim milk are also sold.

In 1995, the Yorks faced the unimaginable loss of their one-hundred-year-old barn and connected home due to a fire that was caused by lightning.  The entire community rallied behind their efforts to rebuild.  While many farmers might tend to give up, the Yorks remained determined to carry on their farm operation.  They have managed to rebuild and expand and diversify.  Their corn maize project has been a very successful venture into agri-tourism and their farm practices have received national recognition.

With their sixteen-hundred acres of cropland and forested land, they are presently the largest farm in Franklin County.



Herbert “Bussie” and Brenda York

Brenda and Herbert “Bussie” York

at their Produce Stand in Farmington

Herbert “Bussie” and Brenda York

              at the Fryeburg Fair