October Farm Spotlight: Billingsgate & C&C Reading Farms

BY TODD SANDSTRUM
Located right on 106 in Plympton, sits a small farm stand owned by Pete and Lynn Reading, who purchased the 30 acre property in 2006. Over 90% of the products within the farm stand are all grown on the farm, using both organic and traditional practices. The farm has been recognized by the Department of Agriculture and is certified by Commonwealth Quality and Baystate Organic. From spring through Fall, there is always something available as ‘Pick You Own,’ strawberries, blueberries and finally fall pumpkins.
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In 2014, the farm was awarded an APR (Agricultural Preservation Restriction) property in West Bridgewater, now known as C&C Reading Farm, LLC. The additional 75 acres has allowed them to expand their growing capabilities as well as add a second farm stand, though the West Bridgewater location does close earlier in the season. The additional land was a boon for growing crops but there was no infrastructure on site, so now they are working on approval for a permanent farm stand to replace the commercial grade event tent they are currently using. They also want to add an irrigation pond.
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Their commitment to the community has been immense. In 2014, the farm donated over $25,000 to local food pantries and shelters. The farm does educational outreach with youth groups in the community as well. As you approach the farm at this time of year, you’ll find a corn maze, wagon rides, live music and more for family fun on the weekends. The funds raised from the agro-tourism is put directly back into repairs and land management, like the last minute repairs needed for one of the farm trucks.
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The corn maze is 3 acres and this is their third year hosting the attraction. This year, the theme is dinosaurs as you wind your way through the twists and turns. It can be walked without assistance, or with their new, smartphone maze tracker app to assist people in finding the path through the maze. There is also a kiddie maze where the corn stalks have been cut in half so it’s not as tall. On November 1st, it’s Dog Day at the Corn Maze; from 10 AM to 6 PM come bring your dog through the maze to help celebrate man’s best friend. This year, it’s dedicated to Woody Butman, their canine companion who passed earlier this year. One dollar of each admission will be donated to Assistance Canine Training Services (ACTS). Look on their website for more details, billingsgatefarm.com.
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There’s a Grain Train pulled by a tractor; it runs continuously all weekend during maze hours. You can either hitch a ride to the maze or travel to the field to pick your pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. Perfect with Halloween coming this weekend.
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The farm currently does wholesale, to large scale customers and smaller restaurants. Their food can also be found at Wholefoods Market. The farm employs nine seasonal employees. Lynn finds it really interesting to deal with two locations that are relatively close geographically but the demographics of the customers are so vastly different. They try to cater the two sites to better accommodate the consumers’ preferences at each location.
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