White Oak Farm in Scituate, RI gap certified
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Scituate, RI - White Oak Farm is located in Scituate and is owned and run by Roger Phillips, his son Paul, and their dog Tucker. The farm is around 70 acres. It is down a dirt road off Pole Ridge Road past rows of apple trees. Roger's parents bought the farm, including a beautiful old farmhouse, in 1939. At that time it was called Sutter Farm and the house was occupied by "problem youths" from Providence. It was hoped that the fresh air and the open fields would "reform" the young boys, already known as "troublemakers" in Providence.
When Roger's parents bought the property in '39 they purchased 25 cows and planted apple trees of several varieties as well as a hybrid brand of sugar corn. Roger's father farmed the land until he retired. After his death Roger and his syblings inherited the farm. But it was Roger that continued to manage it and keep it productive. Some years ago, Paul, Roger's son, joined him in working the farm. Both men have jobs outside the farm. Roger works full time at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. Paul works at the Bridgero's market in Scituate and live in the original farmhouse.
Recently Roger and Paul were able to purchase the property from the rest of the family, by selling off a few acres. Roger looks forward to retiring soon from his regular job to work full-time on the farm.
Roger no longer raises cattle but has placed the major focus on the apple orchards. Some of the original trees planted by Rogers father, still exist, but as trees age and orchards need replaced, Roger has introduced a process which is fairly new to this country. This was first tried in France and Argentina. When a new orchard is planted they purchase a much smaller breed of apple tree, which will never reach the height of the older trees. Therefore, they can plant the new trees much closer together, getting maybe 300 trees on an acre of land. As the trees grow, they are trained to spread out horizontally, like grape vines. Because all of the branches are exposed to the sun, each tree produces more apples, greatly increasing the productivity of an acre of land. The small trees also produce sweeter apples and the crop is more consistent in quality. Slowly, acre by acre, Roger and Paul hope to convert the whole farm to this newer method of apple growing.
This year for the first time, they are also raising some vegetables. They have planted zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers and tomatoes. Their greatest nemesis are the deer that live in the nearby woods. Tucker, a great "farm dog" makes it his business to chase the deer and protect the farm.
Finally Roger and Paul are raising two beautiful goats, for breeding. Although farming is hard work, especially when you have another job, both Roger and Paul like so many other Rhode Island farmers, say its " in their blood".