Around the turn of the last century our land — then known as “the old Simpson place” — was a horse farm. Frank Keene bought it in 1917, named it Elmbrook Farm and turned it into a dairy farm. He later bought the adjacent Edgecomb Farm from his neighbor, Mrs. Toothaker, bringing his total acreage to 250. Frank worked a full shift at the shoe factory in town while managing a herd of 26 milking cows. The farm also grew apples and shipped barrels of them by boat to Boston. They grew wheat, hay and silage for the cows. Silage corn was cut with a scythe, chopped at the barn by machine and blown into the silos.
Elmbrook Farm’s bottled milk was transported by wagon to Belfast and sold for eight cents a quart. In 1937 the farm offered the first pasteurized milk in the area. By 1947, the farm had become known as the Keene Farm and was selling 1000-1500 quarts a day at 12¢ a quart. The Keene family eventually sold the retail milk business to Grant's Dairy. Today, their great grandson is still selling milk to Grant’s from his current farm on Shepard Road, as well as selling milk locally under the Keene Farm label.
Over time the Keenes sold off a number of house lots along Edgecomb Road, and by the time Barton Patrick purchased land on the west side of property for a horse stable, 180 acres remained of the original parcel. When that land came on the market in 2008 it caught the eye of members of the fledgling Belfast Area Cohousing.
The land looked ideal, but the $1 million asking price for the entire farm would make house prices unaffordable. In the first of what was to become a series of creative community financing strategies, founding member Sanna McKim formed Dovetail LLC to purchase the property and then offered the cohousing group an option to buy 30 acres of their choosing within the larger parcel. The boundaries of the final cohousing property, a 41.3 acre parcel from the middle of the farm, were finalized and the land purchased in mid-2011.