EASTON, Conn. Tom Sherwood began clearing out 20 acres of land in November for an orchard, which now has about 2,000 plants in the ground.
The Sherwood family has owned Sherwood Farm, located across from Helen Keller Middle School in Easton, since 1618. The family moved into the house, which still stands, in 1713. Before this year's expansion, the farm covered 60 acres 30 of which the Sherwoods own and 30 of which they lease.
"The whole town developed around us ," said Tom. Fifteen of the 20 cleared acres have been planted with apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, blueberries and pears. Tom said he expects the orchard to produce fruit in two to four years.
While clearing the land, Sherwood said the men found horseshoes and "old pieces of farm equipment we didn't think they had back then."
Tom is the 16th generation of Sherwoods to live on the farm, and his daughters, Jessica and Natasha are the 17th. Natasha, a fourth-grader, is in charge of the animals, Tom said. "She knows everyone's name and makes sure everything is going good with them," said Tom. Jessica, a second-grader, is always in the store and "always doing something," said Tom.
The Sherwoods sell basil, parsley, cilantro, mint, peas, garlic snaps, fingerling potatoes, white onions, red potatoes, kohlrabi, beets, radish, leeks, tomatoes, kale, snap peas, sweet potatoes, squash, eggs and more. One of the most popular items they sell is flaxseed bread made by a local baker. They also sell apple cider doughnuts, strawberry almond muffins and fresh mozzarella.
In the greenhouse alone are 60,000 plants, which doesn't include corn or beans. On a typical day, Tom wakes up, checks on the animals lets the chickens out picks vegetables and then prepares for the day, including making CSA baskets and picking for the farm stand. He then performs maintenance work and the group splits off and does different chores, such as on Wednesday, it will plant watermelons.
The farm has 10 cows, 500 chickens, 120 turkeys and 12 pigs as well as numerous ducks and rabbits. Tom and his friend, Sal, have had bees for 20 years and sell Sal and Tom's Easton Honey at the farm stand. "Every year is more challenging," said Tom.
As for working on the farm, Tom said he has never known another way of life. "It's healthy I've always done it," he said. "I've never bought an ear of corn or a tomato."
He wakes up at 5:30 a.m. and goes to bed at about 11 p.m. but it gets crazier than that, he said. After working hard all spring, summer and fall, Tom said he "hibernates" for eight weeks during the winter from Dec. 15 to Feb. 15.
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