The massive stone expanse serves as a symbol of sorts—a bridge to the future survival of heritage-breed livestock at Swiss Village Farm, a medieval-like collection of buildings overlooking Newport Harbor in Rhode Island. It was once the property of Arthur Curtiss James, a railroad baron and heir to the Phelps Dodge copper fortune. In 1916, he and his wife commissioned their New England farm, modeling it after those in the Alps. As such, all of Newport came to call it Swiss Village Farm.
When the couple died in 1941, the farm fell into dire straits. Neglected and misused, the property eventually drew the determined attention of Wayne philanthropist extraordinaire Dorrance “Dodo” Hamilton, a part-time Newport denizen and a well-known member of the extended family that owns a majority of the Campbell Soup Company. Hamilton purchased the land and transformed it into a sanctuary for preserving heritage-breed livestock through embryonic engineering, a massive green experiment designed to reestablish greater biodiversity on the nation’s farms.
Hamilton isn’t Swiss Village Farm’s only Main Line connection: Executive director Peter Borden was raised in Bryn Mawr and owns Houseworks Construction, which had offices in Strafford and Gladwyne. He knows that our area often gives rise to green initiatives worth showcasing. “Main Liners just expect it,” he says.
Here are this year’s winners.