Maplewood Farm in Portsmouth, RI integrated pest mgmt / GAP certified
Some of what we grow is available year-round.
Maplewood Farm is considered a three season farm. In the spring we do over 30 varieties of potted herbs; in the summer we do 3-4 acres of cut sunflowers, vegetables, and specialty potatoes; and in the fall we harvest over 15 acres of potatoes.
Potted herbs, cut sunflowers and potatoes are sold wholesale. Some delivery available at an extra charge.
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Portsmouth, RI - Judy Carvalho inherited Maplewood Farm from her father some years ago, at a time when most of the land was used to raise potatoes. He owned 37 acres, but rented an additional 400. He sold all his potatoes to Cape Cod Potato Chips and was the first farmer that CCPC bought potatoes from. There is a large barn on the farm that used to be filled from floor to roof with potatoes at harvest time each year.
Judy had no intention of becoming a farmer. She grew up, left home and moved away from Rhode Island but in 1988 her father died suddenly and unexpectedly. When Judy returned for the funeral there were fields and fields of potatoes ready to be picked and no one to do the job. So Judy stayed to harvest the potatoes and never left.
The farm is considerably smaller now. Harvesting the potatoes each year was an enormous job, so in 1999 Judy decided to cut back and diversify. She converted several acres of land to growing sunflowers. She researched several possible crops and discovered that while a whole bag of potatoes might sell for $4, 4 or 5 sunflowers might sell for the same price, making it a much more profitable use of the land.
Around this time Judy was joined by two old friends. Margaret Carey and Mary Bisson asked to lease a piece of Margaret's land, and now raise a rich variety of organic vegetables there. They grows zinnias, tomatoes, beans, squash, onions, celery, carrots, beets and watermelon, all without pesticides or chemical fertilizer. When problems occur they consult URI, which offers advice to farmers looking for organic solutions to bugs or disease.
Judy's nephew also joined in at the farm at about the same time as Mary and Maragaret. He did extensive research on what can be raised profitably on a small amount of land. He built several greenhouses and began to grow a variety of herbs, flowers, and bedding plants, all of which are sold individually in small pots. The flowers are sometimes arranged into hanging baskets.
While each of them have their own specialties, the four work together to keep the farm going. There are still 15 acres of potatoes but the farm is much more diverse. This year for example an acre is devoted to pumpkins. The farm is very much a work in progress, always evolving.
The city of Portsmouth has been helpful to the few farms still existing there. Maplewood Farm is surrounded by new housing developments. But with the help of the city, URI, and the work and creativity of Judy, her nephew, Mary and Margaret, they are doing well. They sell their flowers and produce directly from their farm as well as at several farmers' markets on Aquidneck Island, at the Armory in Providence and at Brown University.