Sakonnet Farm: How One Local Family Is Getting Back To Basics

When Adam and Kristin Silveira met twenty years ago, they never imagined their life would take the turn that has led them to where they are today.  Adam is employed as an engineer, Kristin as a nurse, and they have four active children.  It’s a busy life that requires plenty of balance on its own.  In 2009, they added another major undertaking to their lives when they took a leap of faith and purchased Sakonnet Farm in Tiverton, Rhode Island.  Today, this charming farm reflects the Silveira’s own belief system of eating, buying and shopping locally as often as possible.

It all began with a few chickens

In 2008, after a visit to a friend’s farm, Adam felt inspired to raise chickens.

“The idea came to me when we watched the chickens run around and forage,” said Adam.  ” I found it pretty amazing to watch their behavior and personalities in action, from feeding, to mating, to the pecking order.  Chickens are very interesting creatures.”

His daughter Megan, 12, had a slightly different viewpoint on the chicken venture.

“The kids thought Dad was crazy in the beginning,” Megan joked.  “We didn’t realize that it would turn into what we have now though!”

The chickens were a success and they added to their brood, giving the surplus of eggs to family and friends.  Encouraged, the Silveiras starting thinking about long-term plans.  Kristin was raised by parents that were avid gardeners, whose harvest, along with the fish they caught, would yield enough to freeze for the winter.  Her family led a self-sustaining lifestyle.  Though the Silveiras weren’t in a position to maintain self-sufficiency, they started to believe that owning their own farm would help advance them toward achieving that goal in the future.

Armed with Adam’s construction ability and Kristin’s gardening knowledge, they bought Sakonnet Farm and started working.  In addition to the farm stand, they also own the Old Tiverton Four Corners School House No. 1 on an adjacent property.  Adam spent the following year restoring the schoolhouse and preparing it to be enjoyed as a vacation rental.  It was completed in May, 2011 and has been booked with great success.  One guest stayed for three weeks and has plans to return next summer.  The schoolhouse has been beautifully transformed into a two-bedroom getaway appointed with period decor, wide-plank pine floors, a working cast iron bell and a wood-burning fireplace.  It also offers luxurious modern-day amenities such as a gourmet kitchen, large LCD television and whirlpool tub.

Keeping it local

The Silveira family is working towards a simpler, more farm-based life.  They hope to expand their educational hatching egg program and have plans to add an animal petting area, exotic birds, a picnic area and fire pits.  Adam is focused on developing more cost-efficient ways for local chicken farmers to process at the local level.

“Eventually, we’d like to partner with other farms, along with the USDA and the University of Rhode Island, on building a mobile processing unit,” he said.  “We think it’s very important to provide farmers with the ability to process their own poultry.  Long term, this contributes to the support of local food production and reduces the costs to farmers who, as most people know, make very small profit margins.”

The Silveiras also want to employ others locally as Sakonnet Farm continues to grow and develop.

Adam said, “We think it’s critical, not just for ourselves, but for others, to begin looking for ways to eliminate long commutes to work.  Not so long ago, people used to work on their properties and shop at local purveyors.  That’s not the case anymore.  We shop at huge monopolies and spend a lot of wasted time and money commuting.  Agritourism is a feel-good type business and has been increasing in popularity over the past ten years.  We see an opportunity to provide customers with a unique back-to-basics experience.”

Sakonnet Farm is reminiscent of yesteryear with a farm stand that operates on the honor system with unlocked doors from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.  Offerings transition throughout the seasons, but currently include peppers of the sweet, hot, jalapeño, serrano, Anaheim chili, Thai, cayenne and habanero varieties as well as tomatoes and eggplant.  Herb selections such as parsley, sweet, purple and lime basil, oregano, sage, thyme and catnip abound.  Kristin makes jelly from the grapes that grow in the Silveira’s yard and from strawberries and blueberries that grow locally.  From the produce, comes a jalapeño jelly and salsa.  Last, but not least, lots of farm-fresh eggs!  Visitors are welcome to explore the property, though the chickens, ducks and turkey, though be aware they are free-range and will be expecting feed.

The Silveira family has learned many lessons since buying Sakonnet Farm.  Not only about the best ways to manage plantings, produce and animals, but also about their ability to work side by side as family and farmers.  Adam recognized that Kristin’s parents’ “exceptionally supportive, helpful, encouraging and realistic” input has been priceless.  Kristin has enjoyed seeing her children learn the work and reward relationship and seeing how they interact with customers every weekend at the Sakonnet Grower’s Market.

Megan said, “We have learned so much, like how to sell things and having good manners to our customers.  Now we are like a farm family!  This has been a great experience for everyone and it has made us closer!”

Come to Sakonnet Farm’s Open House this weekend, October 8th, from 12 -4.  In addition to meeting the Silveira family and the farm animals, there will be fresh produce, pumpkin decorating and fall crafts!  Sakonnet Farm, 4042 Main Road, Tiverton, RI, 02878

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