Small Plot but Big Results
Kevin and Paula Sternberg Dougherty’s passion for produce is evident all over their homestead business, “Uphill Farm” in Rochester. This knowledgeable, resourceful couple has greens bursting at the seams in anticipation of spring finally arriving. They both take great pride in being able to produce crops early, and often.
Kevin and Paula started some plants in their greenhouse way back on October 28, and dozens of others inside their home back in February. Using growing lights and moving trays around their house daily, the couple has thousands of plants in various stages of maturity. This type of planning has enabled them to supply Sandy’s Bakery in Rochester with about five pounds of produce a week for the past few months.
Last year Uphill Farm had plants in the ground in mid-April, but the challenging weather hasn’t seemed to phase this entirely organic operation.
Paula explained “we focus on varieties that do well in our unique Vermont climate.” Indeed, one of the greenhouse crops they are currently harvesting is claytonia, also known as “miner’s lettuce.” It originated as a west-coast crop, earning its nickname because miners ate it to prevent scurvy during the gold rush era.
Kevin added “we’re still trying to see what’s popular and finding our niche, seeing what grows well for us.” As a result, the two partners have dozens of crops in the pipeline, from bok choy to grapes, berries to kale.
“Tomatoes and cucumbers are among our best money-makers,” Kevin noted. They’ve found leeks, onions, and garlic to be popular as well.
Last year, the couple expanded off-site for the first time, growing potatoes and squash on a plot at Liberty Hill Farm. They are looking forward to continuing there because Kevin and Paula could hardly make Uphill Farm’s limited space more productive. They farm intensively, regularly running four rotations of crops through a single garden bed while also finding room for a couple dozen chickens and a yearly quartet of sheep. It’s hard not to be impressed with all they are doing while continuing to work regular jobs.
Uphill Farm is offering a market CSA this year that locals should consider. Details can be found at the business’ website and Facebook page. Kevin and Paula will have produce available at Rochester’s Spring Market on Sunday, May 6. Once June rolls around, they are regulars at the Rochester Farmer’s Market every Friday into October.