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Durham farm business passes from family to family

DURHAM – In 1999, residents David and Ty Zemelsky opened Star Light Gardens behind their Fowler Avenue home. In the beginning, the farm mainly grew salad greens for local restaurants. Over time, however, Star Light Gardens began producing an array of vegetables, and flowers.

Recently, after nearly a quarter century in business, David Zemelsky decided to sell his beloved Star Light Gardens. His wife, Ty, died in 2018, and the farm wasn’t the same without her. “I have been doing this for a while and decided it was time to pass the baton to someone else,” Zemelsky said.

“Joel and Jen have worked here for a long time,” he added.

As of March, husband and wife Joel Smith and Jen Hill are the new owners of Star Light Gardens.

“We really love the place and love farming,” Smith said. “It was a unique opportunity for us to keep something really good and keep going.”

Smith’s first season at Star Light Gardens was back in 2013, and in 2018, he began managing the operation.

When Smith and Hill were in the market for a home, they specicially sought out a local property they could farm on. They found what they were looking for in Middlefield, dubbing that growing space Star Light Northwest.

Between the Star Light plot in Durham and the other in Middlefield, Smith and Hill aim to provide organic produce for purchase year-round.

“Our goal is to have delicious, nutritious, organic produce available for all those who seek it 12 months of the year,” the couple states on their website. “We accomplish this with the concept of season extension. Using our unheated Gothic style hoop houses we are able to offer winter favorites, like spinach, while also getting a head start on crops like our beloved Mothers Day carrots and scrumptious Sungold tomatoes.”

Star Light Gardens has a farm stand and is a fixture at area farmers’ markets.

To learn more, visit starlightgardensct.com.




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