Melville's Pittsfield Estate To Be A Farm Again

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The Pittsfield estate where Herman Melville penned his immortal man vs. whale epic "Moby-Dick" will soon be a working farm again.

Pittsfield's Community Development Board gave approval Tuesday for a small farm on the 44-acre property known as Arrowhead. No one spoke against the proposal.

The Berkshire County Historical Society, which runs the site as a museum, plans to use about six acres for vegetable and herb gardens and to raise chickens and rabbits. A chicken coop will be constructed and there will be about 25 hens at first to produce eggs.

The plan is to practice sustainable agriculture and start a Community Supported Agriculture program with the goal of drawing more visitors to the site, Executive Director Betsy Sherman said.

The land was farmed throughout Melville's time in Pittsfield from 1850 until 1863, and beyond, Sherman told The Berkshire Eagle.

Melville compared the home to a ship. "My room seems a ship's cabin and at nights when I wake up and hear the wind shrieking, I almost fancy there is too much sail on the house, and I had better go on the roof and rig in the chimney," he wrote.

Kristen Laney, who will act as farm manager, will begin working at the site in the spring and will start small with the CSA program, offering 10 community shares at first. With a CSA, members purchase shares and receive produce, meat, eggs or other agricultural products.

This article was originally published on March 19, 2014.