BERLIN — Growing garden-ready seedlings and arranging hanging flower baskets with the same tools and techniques is a matter of pride for Eric Chase, owner of Horbal Farm on Chamberlain Highway.
“I feel good that I could keep something going that my grandparents poured so much of their life, heart and soul into,” said Chase, who took over the farm at 750 Chamberlain Highway from his uncle and has been running it with his wife, Narissa Chase, and their kids for four years. He’s the fourth generation of the family to run the farm, which opened in 1944.
Part of the family tradition is not taking any shortcuts. Each hanging basket has fertilizer plugs, which keeps them attractive into the fall.
“It’s been an incredible season so far,” Chase said.
Peppers and tomatoes are a big seller, including ají dulce, calabaza and a dozen other sweet and hot peppers, as well as three varieties of Polish tomatoes, which a customer helped Chase acquire.
They also grow four types of lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, sweet chard, squash, eggplant and a few herbs. That’s in addition to a half dozen flowers available in plantable form or hanging baskets.
With the start of June comes the rush for strawberries.
Economic Development Director Chris Edge said the town’s farms have a lot to contribute to the local economy, providing produce to local restaurants and bringing people in who want a different experience from grocery store shopping.
"It is important to remind people – yes we still have farms, they are surviving. And from my standpoint, how do we help them continue to survive?" he said.
It’s difficult work that starts long before the growing seasons, Chase said, but worth it at the end of each harvesting day when he can look at the gamut of colors in the back of his truck, filled with flowers, peppers and vegetables.
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