When we started this farm more than 20 years ago, we had no idea that it would lead to anything more than a part-time passion for offering farm-fresh, pick-your-own strawberries. Fast-forward to what Sweet Berry Farm has become with time, love, and lots of support from the community, and we have to stop and thank you.
It’s humbling to look at how far we’ve come. We’re honored that this year we have been granted the 2017 Agricultural Adventurers Award by The New England Fellowship of Agricultural Adventurers.
Each year since 1953, this group, a branch of Eastern States Exposition (ESE), has selected an award recipient who has made significant contributions to New England agriculture. ESE creates opportunities throughout the year to promote agriculture, education, and industry while preserving our New England heritage. One of the more popular events it hosts is The Big E, held each fall in West Springfield, MA.
What started as a hobby turned into our life’s work. We began by selling produce out of beer coolers and flowers out of buckets. We listened to what our friends, neighbors, and visitors would come in search of — which fruits they were seeking, and what veggies they wanted to add to their summer salads. By listening and learning from our community, we planted more crops, and expanded our offerings based on demand.
A turning point for us was when we connected with our friends at the Aquidneck Land Trust. With their help we were able to purchase nearly 60 more acres connected to our existing property (read more about our conservation story here). With new land came new opportunity for fresh produce, cut flowers, and pick-your-own throughout the growing seasons. Our desire to provide fresh options in the area grew, and so we turned our basement into a commercial kitchen to prepare locally grown and prepared meals on-site.
We are always keeping our eye on the future and how we can better serve our visitors. But we never forget our roots, either. Farming is a business, but it’s also a labor of love, and our community is what keeps us going. We’ve been able to employ some incredible chefs and workers and contribute to the local economy, but, more importantly, get to know people.
We think the best part about owning the farm is the sense of connection: our place here in Rhode Island. We can’t say enough good things about our neighbors, our customers, or our fellow farmers. The Agricultural Adventurers Award is an honor, and your support is invaluable. Thank you!