The Four-Legged Friends Behind the Co-op’s Products: The Dogs of Generation Farm

Originally published in Four Legs & A Tail

I love shining a light on all the farmers and producers who provide a bounty of local food and other locally made products to our community. In this article, however, I move the spotlight over and down, from the businessperson to their four-legged friends — the working dogs, cats, and other animals who also make these local products possible. This Four-Legged Farm Friend Feature highlights the dogs at Generation Farm in Concord, NH.

Farmers James and Marley Stever specialize in certified organic salad greens. The farm’s team includes two English Shepherds named Rue (age 3) and Mango (nearly age 2). “Their names are a culinary theme and evocative of their personalities,” Marley shared. “Rue for the herb — she is intense, complex, and spicy. Mango, he is like honey and sunshine.”

Without livestock to corral, how does a pair of English Shepherds help on a fruit and vegetable farm? English Shepherds are both herders and hunters, making Rue and Mango much-needed assets on Generation Farm.

Marley explains, “Before we got our dogs, we used to have terrible trouble with precocious deer breaking through the netting along the sidewalls of our greenhouses. Our property was a veritable deer superhighway. Now with dogs on the property, the deer keep a far more respectful distance! We have had no more hassles and even feel comfortable leaving the gates of our deer fence open on occasion.”

Each morning, Mango wakes James and Marley with a gentle nudge right at sunrise, anxious to start the day. Mango and Rue’s first order of business: chasing off any unwelcomed critters. “Wild turkeys especially enjoy helping themselves to our blueberry bushes in late summer and are often caught red-handed in the early mornings,” said Marley. “[Rue and Mango] are keenly aware of their property and will alert me to anything that is off — like coyote scat near our gates or a new groundhog den in the old stump pile.”

English Shepherds, also known as Farm Collies, make great all-purpose work dogs and true companions. Rue came from a breeder in Maine, and Mango, a breeder from Vermont. “The English Shepherd community is small, and I am still close with the wonderful people who bred my dogs,” added Marley. “It feels like being part of a family.”

Marley continues, “These dogs are very trainable, learning routines quickly, but are also capable of useful independent thinking,” boasted Marley. “What I love most is they are typically like Velcro, moving faithfully beside their person like a shadow, always looking for ways to be useful. They possess a type of empathy that is hard to put into words. I also adore their coat, which has a Teflon quality that sheds dirt and debris effortlessly, requiring very little maintenance.”

Discover more about Rue and Mango’s breed and learn more about Generation Farm.

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