On the rolling fields of Spear Street, just north of the Kwiniaska golf course, on the east side of the road, sits a new, bright red barn, the hub of Fisher Brothers Farm. It’s surrounded by rows and rows of berries and other pick-able fruits, and it’s all there because of the hard work and big dreams of Becky Castle and Bob Clark.
Berry season is here, and the you-pick farm (which also sells already-picked berries) is open for business for its first season.
Castle and Clark got to work on the land in 2012, after their career and family history paths led them to the conclusion that the best way to spend their time and talents was on a farm in Vermont. Castle, whose background is in agriculture and nonprofit development, and Clark, who worked in the film industry, found a way to blend their talents. The couple wanted to focus on the outdoors, on agriculture, and on building a sustainable business that fed both their bodies and their souls.
Rows of berries and grapes stretch up and down the gentle hills of the Fisher Brothers Farm; Castle and Clark planted blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, elderberries, and aronia berries. They also have an acre of Marquette grapes. The berries are ready right now, and the grapes will be sold to local wineries.
Castle said they chose their crops based on not only what they thought their customers would like to pick and eat, but also what could have a use beyond your usual pie-and-crumble varieties. She found, though, that she got a lot more out of her berry plants than she anticipated.
“We want to do what we like, and what people like,” Castle said. Her sense of satisfaction runs deep. “You feel a real connection to your plants,” she said. “They’re your babies.”
Castle and Clark hope to create an experience at Fisher Brothers Farm that is beyond the usual berry-picking jaunt. The farm will have an ice cream workshop where participants will use berries straight from the farm to create their own hard ice cream flavors, learning about the science of ice cream and working the hand crank on their own. Family movie nights are on the schedule—the next one is July 16—as well as weed and wine parties, where garden helpers can sip, chat, and weed.
In keeping with their family-friendly theme, Castle and Clark’s three school-age daughters are helping out on the farm this summer. Clark said this is important to them as parents. They want their daughters to learn where their food comes from, and to experience the actual fruits of hard work. “They will be able to say, ‘From the earliest age, I was part of it,’” he said.
Running the farm combines the best parts of getting your hands dirty, Clark said, and is the perfect blend of working with his mind and working with his body. “It combines aspects of blue-collar and white-collar work,” he said, “I get my management fix, and I get to farm and fix things.”
Castle and Clark said they already feel connected to the community, and hope that it shows in their commitment to their farm and their customers. Clark said their neighbor, Jerry, has been invaluable to them, as have “lots of other farmers, and Shelburne Vineyard…they lent equipment and gave advice.”
“We want to focus on making sure we do everything right,” Castle said, “and create great, fun experiences for people.”