Long Live the Farm

Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI

Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI

The Providence Journal recently reported the growth of RI farms (Number of RI farms is growing). It’s promising to think that while the RI unemployment climbs and local employers and governments make cutbacks, that at least local farms might be flourishing.

The Census of Agriculture, Rhode Island saw a sharp increase (the highest in New England and likely the U.S.) in the number of farms and total land in farms. The 2007 data found 1,219 Rhode Island farms compared with 858 in 2002. However, since the Census is only done every five years, we won’t know how the farms weathered the worst of the recession (not to mention the rain) until 2014 (when the 2007-2012 data would be released).

So, take a look at the impressive list of 2,040 farms listed on Farm Fresh Rhode Island and support as many as you can. I’m doing my part, but there’s only so much I can eat.

Highlights from the Census:

  • The number of RI farms was 1,219, up 42 percent from 2002.
  • Land in farms totaled 67,819, up 11 percent from 2002.
  • Market value of production totaled $65.9 million, up 19 percent from 2002.
  • Direct market sales totaled $6.292 million, up from $3.697 million in 2002. 249 farms (20 percent) reported direct market sales.
  • Organic value of sales totaled $1.2 million, up from $270,000 in 2002.
  • Agritourism income totaled $689,000 on 43 farms, up from $23,000 and six (6) farms in 2002.

Learn More:
Farm Fresh RI: Local food guide, farmers’ markets
Get Fresh Buy Local: Government campaign to foster local food
Census of Agriculture Report

Pick Your Own Fruit at Sweet Berry Farm

Picking Berries at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI.

Picking Berries at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI.

There are so many reasons to love Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, RI.  In the fall they have pick-your-own apples and pumpkins (they make the best pumpkin muffins on the planet — perhaps, the universe).  Also, their farm stand stays open from mid-April through the end of December, which extends the ‘market’ season by several months.  Even better, their farm stand doubles as a quaint grocery store that carries mostly local products — you can buy the Sweet Berry Farm jams, honeys and pastries, but you can also buy milk, eggs, cheese, and pasta.  They even make their own frozen gourmet dinners.  The farm also has a little café (indoors and outdoors) where you can sit and enjoy some of their  muffins, soups, sandwiches and salads.

On their 100 acre farm, they grow vegetables (beets, carrots, corn, salad greens, squash, etc.), fruits (apples, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, etc.), flowers, and trees.  Their extensive pick-your-own schedule  begins with strawberries in early June and ends in December with Christmas trees.  (They allow you to tag your tree months in advance, but if you’re like us, it also works to pick one of the unclaimed orphan trees around December 20).

Today, Madeline and I went to pick our own — peaches (firm but tasty), blackberries (beautiful but tart) and the last of the raspberries (perfectly sweet).

Pick-your-own peaches at Sweet Berry Farm

Pick-your-own peaches at Sweet Berry Farm

Here’s the picking schedule, in case you want to try for yourself…

Strawberries: Early June through early July
Summer Raspberries: July through mid-August
Fall Raspberries: Late August through September
Blueberries: Mid-July through August
Peaches: Late July through early October
Blackberries: Early August through September
Apples: September through early October
Pumpkins: Late September through October
Christmas Trees: Tagging starts in October

Sweet Berry Farm
915 Mitchell’s Lane
Middletown, Rhode Island
www.sweetberryfarmri.com

Simmons Farm’s Petting Zoo

Simmons Farm Petting Zoo

Simmons Farm Petting Zoo

Simmons Farm — what a sweet little stop along the side of Route 114 in Middletown, RI.   Not only do they have a farm stand with the best corn on Aquidneck Island (which we refer to as ‘crack corn’ for its addictive properties), but they also have a petting zoo. For 25 cents, you can purchase some grains to hand-feed the goats, llama, lambs, and horses. Forget feeding the pig, who will inevitably be too fatigued to bother with you.

Simmons Farm
1942 West Main Road
Middletown, RI
www.simmonsorganicfarmri.com/petting-zoo/