The Beauty of Bittersweet Farm
Historically, farmers in New England have always dealt with challenges. They worked in a harsh climate with a short growing season and toiled on unyielding soil with an abundance of rocks. Most New England farms produced enough to sustain a family with perhaps a small harvest to share in a local market. Bittersweet Farm, located in the Old Saybrook highlands rather than the coastal plain, evokes memories of both the rugged independence of New England farmers as well as their deep commitment to community. A multigenerational farm run by a devoted extended family takes the visitor back in time. Chickens roam the property including one spectacular Polish hen with a gorgeous crown of blonde feathers. The vegetable garden is carefully maintained with neat pathways enclosed by a rustic handmade fence.
The Bounty of Bittersweet Farm
The family works to produce herbs, vegetables, flowers, and eggs for several CSA members as well as for the Old Saybrook farmer’s market. A deep commitment to sharing a passion for the land and the importance of organic farming lends itself to a cornucopia of classes offered by one of the owners, Kristy Benson. Tea, vinegar, and wreaths are just some of the products that people can learn how to make. In order to be classified as Certified Naturally Grown (a comparable classification to organic but used for smaller farms), the owners went through a rigorous certification process involving a twelve page check list and a thorough inspection of the property including all the out buildings. This family is committed to providing organic produce. It takes a team including Frank Amarante who provides structural support and labors to build the colorful chicken coops. Linda Benson, a Master Gardener, who designs the vegetable beds. Alexa Johnson prepares the produce for market. Elaina Benson lends her business expertise. And of course, Kristy Benson, a literature major, combines all these elements to create a rich story of New England farming, past and present.
The Best of Bittersweet Farm
A visit to this small farm strewn with rocks deposited hundreds of years ago reminds one of the bitter challenges that confronted early New England farmers. But on this warm summer afternoon, the rhythmic clucking of chickens, the scent of flowers drifting on the breeze, the sunlight playing of an array of colors and the warm greeting you receive, reminds us that in New England we grow to sustain our families but we also grow to share with our neighbors…and that is the sweet reward of labor in a bitter climate.
963 Middlesex Turnpike Old Saybrook, Ct 06475
Be sure to follow them on Facebook to get updates regarding available produce and scheduled events!
This guest post was written by Jean Golicz, Master Gardener