NEW SHARON – In early May small signs start sprouting up on corners of New Sharon like spring daffodils. These small signs inform the passerby that there are seedlings for sale at a small greenhouse tucked away on any number of back country roads.
One such greenhouse is located at Puckerbrush Farm. There, farmer Robby Richards can be found mixing compost, raising small meat chicks, corralling beef with his border collies; Annie and Thunder, tending to his vegetable, herb and flower seedlings, and working in his own large garden.
Richards has been farming since 2002 when he purchased his greenhouse. He had just left his job at the mill in Rumford and moved to the farm that once belonged to his father. His reasons for farming are many. First, he said, he wants his family to eat well. Farming lets him feel connected to the Earth. He likes working for himself and it lowers his grocery bill.
Farming has been in Richards’ family for a couple of generations. His grandfather, Ross Richards, grew corn, beans and potatoes. Ross Richards was instrumental in building the old cannery that used be where the Department of Health and Human Services office building is now. His father also used to grow cattle and did some small farming.
He has many folks in the community that have helped to get established. He says that Jim and Robin Jordan at Robin’s Flower Pot in Farmington have been great resources for him. The owners of Sandy River Farm Supply store in New Sharon, John and Larry Donald, have also provided a lot of support. Tony Ramsey, the compost doctor, of Living Acres, also of New Sharon, has been an invaluable help. Friends and family have been some of his best customers.
It is clear that Richards is enthusiastic about his work. He can tell his customers all about the variety of seedlings he sells, his process for mixing his compost. His trust in the Farmer’s Almanac has never steered him wrong. The proof is in the vigor of his big, healthy seedlings.
Puckerbrush Farm is open for selling seedlings 7 days a week from 9-5 p.m. until the sign, at the end of the Industry Road in New Sharon, comes down.
In an occasional series, Karin Schott of New Sharon, interviews the farmers of Franklin County to find out how they got started and the latest trends in agriculture. Schott is a student at Umass Amherst in their Small Farming and Sustainability Certificate Program.