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Down on the Charm Farm, With Christopher Spitzmiller

The Beloved Artist's First Book Depicts an Idyllic Life

BY // 03.16.21

Christopher Spitzmiller’s charming first book, A Year at Clove Brook Farm (Rizzoli, $45), depicts the life we would all like to have about now. At Spitzmiller’s bucolic farm in Millbrook, New York, he raises flocks of heritage-breed chickens, tends gardens, keeps bees, makes his own jam, and cooks, making it look deceptively easy and picture-perfect. And in stroke of kismet, Martha Stewart, a good friend, who shares his passion for exotic hens and year-round gardening, wrote the foreword.

Spitzmiller — an artist beloved by the design world for his richly glazed lamps, tabletop, and other ceramics that he creates from his New York City studio — came across the decaying 1830s Greek Revival farmhouse on a chilly October day in 2005; smitten with its possibilities, he spent the next five years renovating and redecorating. The process, though sometimes arduous, was akin to making art. “I have found myself taking my passion for creating beauty from clay to creating beauty from the raw materials that surround me,” he writes.

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Christopher Spitzmiller with buff Orpington chickens.

The chapters follow the changing seasons, with sumptuous photographs documenting life on the farm. In spring, pink blossoms from 16 varieties of heirloom apple trees scent the air, baby chicks are born, and asparagus, rhubarb, and peonies are ready for picking. Summer brings dining and cocktails on the terrace, fresh herbs to be picked for cooking, and hydrangeas, dahlias, and lilies to gather for the table. An experienced beekeeper, he harvests and bottles his own honey in late summer. Fall is the time for apple harvesting and pie making, seed collection, and bulb planting. Winter is all about decorating for Christmas, cooking big meals, pruning apple trees, and propagating new plants, such as salvia, verbena, and figs. Spitzmiller built a dovecote by hand, where he breeds flocks of Indian fantails and other exotic pigeons. Sebastopol and Embden geese roam the grounds and young goslings trail sweetly behind Spitzmiller as he works.

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