More than a half-century ago, Al and Phyllis Sherman opened Sherman Farm along the winding Saco River valley in East Conway. Taking care of the farm has always been a family affair and today three generations of the Sherman family are currently running the business.
The farm can trace its roots back to 1964 and the couple that started it all, Al and Phyllis Sherman. Al was raised on a North Attleboro farm and longed to one day own and operate his own. After graduating with a degree in Animal Husbandry from the University of Massachusetts, he married Phyllis and worked as a herdsman, saving his money. In 1964 the Shermans bought their East Conway farm (originally known as the "Shirley Farm" after its previous owners) and relocated there with their daughters as well as the family dogs and a few cows.
Throughout the decades Al expanded his farming business to utilize the latest equipment and technologies, and focused on producing fruits and vegetables. "The dairy expanded slowly and the farm evolved, with farm-grown fruits and vegetables sold at a farmer's market and at the farm Al and Phyllis, with the help of three daughters (Cheryl, Kathy and Debbie) were very progressive," explains Michele Dutton, Business Manager and Farm Partner, and granddaughter of the Shermans.
"Farming takes a deep level of knowledge of many things -- the soil, planting, harvesting, pest management, animal husbandry, farm management, weather and so much more. And a commitment to lifelong learning!" The Shermans were always open to trying something new and experimented with new products while listening to their customers and tastes and changing with them.
Today the farm produces sixty acres of fruits and vegetables, raises over forty head of Angus beef cattle and thirty pigs, and delivers Sherman Farm milk, still in glass bottles. A farm market that sells everything from locally produced artisan cheeses to honey is open daily and a 12-acre corn maize operates for six weeks each autumn season.
Dutton cites several benefits to buying products from local farmers. "Local food supports local families," she explains. "Local farms produce high quality products that you can't find in large grocery store chains. These products are produced with the utmost respect for the land, animals and people needed to make them."
Visiting a farm also gives the public an opportunity to see how their food is grown. One of the most popular programs organized by Sherman Farm is its Little Farmers day classes, which gives children as young as three a hands-on experience in gardening and an introduction to what life is like on a working farm. The classes are held during the summer months and almost always sell out.
"The sense of pride I have for the business my grand parents created and that my family is lucky enough to still have is overwhelming," says Dutton. "We work everyday to feed people and we do it because we love it." No doubt Al and Phyllis Sherman would surely be proud of their farm's legacy as well as their children and grandchildren's hard work in keeping the business innovative and profitable.