Wadson's Farm was established with very humble beginnings in the Fall of 1976 with little over an acre in Paget, Bermuda. The land was good, well exposed to the south and excellent for winter growing. With a team of draft horses, a sense of humour, full time employment elsewhere and a borrowed tractor Tom set to work planting potatoes--It was a start. Somehow he managed to make it through the first season and started to plant a few other crops, slowly managing to get going.
Tom managed to find more pieces of land across the island and bought a part time farmer out. He planted 15 tons of hand-cut seed potatoes, hand picked a bumper crop and went from there. In those days conventional agriculture was the only farming in Bermuda. By this time Tom was working some 30 acres and starting to put a fairly serious operation together.
Wadson's Farm started planting vegetables: broccoli, carrots...whatever he could. At this time, Farming was still quite widespread in Bermuda. Even so it was not easy. Wholesale prices were, as they are now, ridiculously low. We started a small retail market on the south shoe in Warwick. We learned more. We sold more. We survived.
Still engaged in full time employment, Tom was lead to the parish of Southampton, where a house had become available that happened to be located on a farm. His first waking morning in the new house was to the sound of a mule walking past, ready to cultivate potatoes. He was happy to be in Southampton! As luck would have it, 10 acres of good land was waiting to be rented next door. He took it and planted the whole thing in potatoes.
Until 2003, we farmed conventionally at Wadson's Farm. In September of that year a turning point came when Hurricane Fabian arrived, completely wiping out everything in a matter of hours. Leaving us devastated.
Somehow we managed to keep going, despite having NOTHING left. We realized it was an ideal time to start farming with a clean approach, transitioning to organic agriculture as well as adding pasture poultry and sheep. Later adding pigs, the original Bermuda Hogs, in 2007.
Currently we have a team of eleven people who help to run the farm. One has been with us for over 2 decades, and the newest with us for 3 years. We also take on apprentices and community service persons.
Tom Wadson was born in Paget, just like everybody else born in Bermuda. His family can be traced back to the days the Sea Venture ran aground off St. Georges, and brought the first settlers to the island.
He’s been “playing” with agriculture from an early age. At 6 he began keeping poultry, and by 7 he was working for the late Thomas James, one of the great Bermudian farmers when agriculture was still a major industry on the island. He looked after chickens housed from the old military hospital in Dockyard right down to Purvis School in Warwick and also milked around 40 cows each day. Working harder on weekends and when school was out he watched Mr. James “plant a lot of land, without a lot of equipment.”
At the age of 12, Tom was sent to boarding school in Scotland. During his time there he found the only thing that made him happy was looking after the school’s flock of chickens. As the years progressed, he also found peace climbing the mountains of Scotland, and went on to lead his school’s mountain rescue team.
After finishing up school, he returned to Bermuda with no clue about what he wanted to do. Tom fished commercially, painted houses and boats, and started to sail across the ocean. He considered a career at sea until a Canadian cousin told him he was attending Agricultural Collage. He was in disbelief that farming was real outside of Bermuda, and that you could actually go to school for it.
Tom graduated from Ontario Agricultural College in 1976 and started farming on a little over an acre in Paget that fall. He struggled and had to take a job as a heavy equipment operator and blaster. He soon heard about a small cottage on Lukes Pond Rd. in Southampton located next to a farm. The land on the farm came up for rent, as did a bigger apartment on the same farm. He rented both, took a huge gamble and planted 15 tons of seed potatoes (about 15 acres). The gamble turned into an excellent crop and he was on his way! Tom still lives in the same spot and the farm is still in the same location today.