New Butterfly Farm owner plans to add grass-fed beef to the offerings

New Butterfly Farm owner plans to add grass-fed beef to the offerings

Dan Flynn, the new owner of Butterfly Farm in Lincoln, stands with his cows that are named after “The Golden Girls” TV show. Flynn’s hoping to expand the herd and offer grass-fed beef to the community, in addition to chicken and lamb. (Breeze photos by Brittany Ballantyne)

LINCOLN – Dan Flynn cruises around the rolling hills of Butterfly Farm on an ATV, two of his herding dogs running in sync with one another alongside the four-wheeler.

He points out a donkey that protects his sheep, grown for lamb meat, and calls for the “girls,” a herd of cows that run up to a fence and nestle their heads in Flynn’s hand as he pets them. This is the first year Butterfly Farm is raising cows, all grass-fed bovine, for beef.

Last May, Flynn purchased Butterfly Farm from Joyce Smith of Lincoln, who still helps out at the farm every day.

Flynn said taking over the farm has been a dream come true. Since he was about 7 years old, he’s helped out at the farm, selling hot chocolate, cider, candy and muffins with his childhood friend, Bryan Stachurski of Lincoln, during Christmas tree tagging season.

“I think we ate half the profits,” he said, laughing.

Flynn, the son of former Town Council member John Flynn, started working the land at the farm when he was older, carrying Christmas trees down to the 102-year-old barn where the trees are wrapped for customers, and helped pick pumpkins.

When he was about 14, Flynn said, he picked up more work, doing everything from maintenance painting to caring for the farm’s animals.

At 27, he began pursuing the purchase of the 77-acre property sitting beside Chase Farm and the Hearthside House, once Smith announced she was looking to retire about four years ago. As of May 2016, Flynn said, the farm was his, and he’s been juggling running the property with working full-time as a teacher at Bristol County Agricultural High School in Massachusetts, teaching agricultural science and equine practices.

Butterfly Farm now sells chicken, goat and sheep meat, and will offer beef once the cattle have matured, as well as eggs, firewood, pumpkins, mums and a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers, the owner said.

Flynn said he’s trying to keep the farm stand, which runs on an honor system, open daily, and in the future, he wants to sell beef and eggs throughout the four seasons and build the beef herd.

He said he wants Butterfly Farm to become a place where people can buy their food in addition to tagging and cutting down Christmas trees, a tradition the farm has kept up for decades.

He’s particularly looking forward to this year’s tagging and cutting season, given that last year the farm lost nearly 2,000 trees to drought.

“This year’s like a new year,” he said, and the farm will open its tree lot for tagging starting Oct. 7, on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. A small pumpkin patch will also open Oct. 7, Flynn said.

Once it’s closer to the season, Flynn said, Santa will make a return to the farm.

Flynn, a Lincoln High School Class of 2004 graduate, also offers “puppy kindergarten” at the farm, where he helps dog owners train their pups during a seven-week course that meets weekly for an hour.

Flynn, who graduated from University of Rhode Island with degrees in environmental horticulture and animal science, said he’s hoping to offer various workshops and a children’s summer camp at the farm in the future, to provide educational sessions about composting, gardening, putting together planters, animal husbandry and other farming elements.

“It’s a lot of work, but I love it. It’s a labor of love,” he said of juggling his full-time teaching job with running the farm at 679 Great Road.

“If I didn’t have the friends that I have, I wouldn’t be able to do everything I do here,” he said.

About 15 people volunteer to help out at the farm, he said, and his right-hand man and woman are Russ Ridge and Charlene Stachurski, both Lincoln residents. Friends and family make it all possible, he said, and he shows his gratitude each year with a ham dinner for volunteer workers.

Knowing the farm is part of the food system, growing food and providing for the community, Flynn said, has been rewarding.

“It’s definitely been a dream come true,” he said.

Dan Flynn looks over his crop of Christmas trees at Butterfly Farm, where tagging season begins Saturday, Oct. 7.
Butterfly Farm offers puppy kindergarten, one of the new initiatives Flynn has launched since purchasing the farm in May 2016. He said he’s trained roughly 60 dogs since the program began.
Dan Flynn greets a donkey at his Butterfly Farm in Lincoln. Flynn says the donkey will protect sheep from any predators that may pass through the farm. Chickens, cows, goats, sheep, donkeys and dogs all roam the farm Flynn purchased in May 2016.