This 150-acre family-owned, diversified produce farm is just a few miles from downtown Providence, RI. 4 Town Farm owners know their customers value a “farm experience,” not just fresh food, fabulous flowers or perfect plants. 4 Town Farm invites visitors to harvest Pick Your Own crops and practice this important aspect of farming.
Good customer communication encourages repeat visits for family fun on the farm.
Farm Experiences - Pick Your Own
Visitors enjoy an authentic farm experience with Pick Your Own (PYO) produce, educational tours and a corn maze. PYO crops include strawberries, fava beans, English peas, raspberries, pumpkins and cut flowers. PYO visitors enjoy tractor rides to the strawberry or pea fields each June. The PYO flower garden is open from late June through September when a hard frost wipes out the flowers. PYO raspberries are available from late July through mid-September. Late in the season, tractor rides bring visitors to a small corn maize and pumpkin patch.
The rustic farm stand at 4 Town Farm is open daily April through December 23 offering cut trees and wreaths after a long season of fresh produce and cut flowers.
4 Town Farm is known for its delicious, fresh asparagus, strawberries, sweet corn and melons. The farm website says, “We grow almost every variety of small fruit and vegetable that can be grown in this climate.” These farmers constantly experiment with new varieties. See a calendar listing when their various crops are available here. Each fall the farm stand offers pumpkins, mums, corn stalks, gourds and squashes. The farm offers nearly a dozen varieties of apples.
The farm stand started with Eleanore Clegg selling cantaloupes off wooden crates at the end of the street. A covered wagon was next and in 1972, the farm stand was built. Today direct selling at the farm stand sells 80% of 4 Town Farm’s produce.
The farm’s website says, “After five generations, we have gotten pretty good at having a constant supply of fresh produce for seven months of the year.”
The garden center welcomes visitors from mid-April through late October with pansies, vegetable herb and annual starts, hanging baskets, mixed containers and perennials.
4 Town Farm has 50,000 square feet of covered greenhouse space where they grow annuals, hanging pots, mixed containers, herbs and vegetable starts. Customers can also find assorted perennials, roses, blueberry bushes and other shrubs.
Experienced staff include master gardeners, plant biologists, lifelong farmers and “green thumbs.’ Staff teach customers to start a vegetable garden or plant window baskets. The farm also creates custom hanging pots, window boxes and patio containers.
Each October, 4 Town Farm offers educational farm tours for schoolchildren. Tours begin with a tractor ride around the farm. At the carrot greenhouse, students see how carrots are harvested, washed and bagged for shipment. Children can make a bag of carrots to take home. Afterwards a walking tour teaches students how vegetables grow. Students finish through a small corn maize to a pumpkin patch where they select a sugar pumpkin to bring home.
Farm tour booking opens September 1 on a first come, first serve basis. To book a class tour, call the farm at 508-336-9740.
Chris Clegg offers tours for Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) and other agricultural groups. Last June, Clegg spoke about Starting Root Vegetables as part of SEMAP's Twilight Grower Education Series. He shared the farm’s techniques for growing onions, radishes, Macomber rutabaga, Napoli carrots and Pacemaker III beets as well as some general farming tips.
The farm grows a couple of acres of potatoes. Clegg said they bring in most of their potatoes and apples from nearby farms that specialize in those crops.
Pest control techniques include topping corn at 6’ with a Hagie corn topper so birds are more visible before they do significant damage. Clegg said it is cost effective for them to have a full-time employee drive between ripening cornfields to scare away birds during times of peak threat.
Tour attendees saw the farm’s 1.5 acre, fully netted PYO blueberry patch. Farm staff also pick berries for sale at the farm stand.
Clegg has well-stocked equipment sheds including his favorite FMC carrot harvester and 100 hp Kennco bed-maker and plastic layer. “This is a monster,” said Clegg, admitting it is probably larger than he needed. Clegg admitted he rarely used his Pixall corn picker. His Guatemalan workers are faster except during extreme summer heat waves.
Customer Communication & Promotions
A thorough website, Facebook page and pre-season and seasonal e-newsletters keep customers alerted to what is available at Four Town Farm. Newsletters include farm and garden center photos and recipes for using farm stand produce.
Early spring e-newsletters promoted pansies and included humorous photos of toy bulldozers and young asparagus shoots. Later photos showed toy tractors with strawberries. A fall enewsletter promoted mums, pumpkins and apples. Fall decorating tips, apple recipes and school field trips were also featured. A December enewsletter featured snowman wreaths and offered a free bag of 4 Town Farm potatoes with a Christmas tree purchase.
A Facebook photo contest generated great photos for future marketing efforts, online buzz and extra farm stand traffic.
5 Generations of Farm History
4 Town Farm was named for being at the junction of Seekonk and Swansea, MA with Barrington and East Providence, RI. The farm started over 100 years ago by David Peck. Chris Clegg represents the fifth generation to work this land.
At one point or another, nearly everyone in the family has worked on the farm. Seven family members currently run a farm enterprise. Chris’s Aunt Jean runs the farm stand. Chris’ dad Steve Clegg, grows the greenhouse tomatoes and greens. Uncle Tom grows the peaches and large acreage crops like corn and squash. Chris’s mom runs the garden center and coordinates educational tours. Chris’s brother Brad grows high tunnel cucumbers. Chris’s sister Jenn grows sunflowers.
4 Town Farm started out as a wholesale farm selling mainly to grocery stores. Today only 20% of their produce goes to wholesale customers. Chris’s Uncle Tom grows extra carrots, butternut squash, cape white turnips, cabbage and corn for local restaurants and large wholesale customers (distributors).
Learn more at here and at their facebook page. Read about 4 Town Farm in edible Rhody at edible Rhody or see farm photos here. Call (508) 336-5587 for this season’s hours and visit the farm stand at 90 George Street, Seekonk, MA 02771. Open seven days a week April through December.
A similar story ran in the April 28, 2014 New England edition of Country Folks.