Sheldon Farms, from Salem in Washington County, is known especially for all kinds of potatoes, featured at the stand from late summer into early spring, and for the amazing sweet corn in summer. Even into the late winter in March, Sheldon Farms brings five varieties to the market.
But, there are other offerings on the Sheldon Farms table, including the maple syrup the Sheldon Farms produces every year.
“Sugaring is a tradition I want to keep going,” says owner Albert Sheldon. Albert noted that he continues to produce syrup much like his ancestors did in Rupert, Vermont, where he still harvests some sap on land that was part of the original homestead. Sugaring provided dairy farmers with income in early spring in the 1800s, and provided work for farm hands just like it does today. Albert’s employees work in the sugar bush to harvest the sap and make the syrup, just before the rush of plowing fields and spring planting begins.
The Sheldon family history in farming and in the United States traces to Colonial times when a Sheldon settled in Connecticut. Some family members migrated to Deerfield, Massachusetts, and later to Rupert. Growing potatoes, running a dairy farm and maple sugaring are themes that run through the family’s heritage for nearly all that time.
In 1946, Albert’s father and an uncle moved to Salem from Rupert. His father bought land south of Salem which was suited to growing hay and grain crops and potatoes, and met Albert’s mother when buying seed potatoes. His uncle purchased another parcel of land for the dairy farm and used the nearby pasture land. When Albert’s generation came of age, he and some cousins started Woody Hill Farm, which is easily seen on the east side of Route 22, closer to the Village.
After twenty years in the dairy business, Albert returned to growing potatoes, which his father had continued while Albert was with Woody Hill Farm. Soon Albert began to diversify by adding sweet corn, and later a colorful array of vegetables. The farm stand and the stand at the farmers’ market sparkled with green peas and green beans, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and even Brussels sprouts.