by Ariel Finkle, Guest Contributor
Tucked away in the northern fields of Rhode Island lies a family-owned farm that’s been servicing Rhode Island for nearly a century. Barden Family Orchard in North Scituate was started back in 1931 by husband-and-wife team Hazel and John Barden as an apple orchard.
Sandra Barden — current co-owner along with Gilbert D. Barden, Jr., both pictured here — told me more about this family history of horticulture. “It was started and continued as a second income until we were able to support our family on the income from the farm with the help of the programs offered by Farm Fresh RI.” They have been a Market Mobile partner since 2005, when the concept of Farm Fresh RI’s wholesale distribution service was still first being developed. Today home customers and wholesale buyers alike can purchase their produce online for either curbside pickup at Farm Fresh RI or delivery to locations throughout Rhode Island and the Boston-metro area. Sandra tells me she appreciates how Farm Fresh RI is “connecting local food with local consumers,” and that Market Mobile is a vital outlet for their fruit sales.
Barden Family Orchard sells Macintosh, Cortland, and Macoun apples, and offer a newer “Pick-Your-Own Honeycrisp” program. Of course, their apple cider, cinnamon cider jelly, and applesauce (processed by local group Fat Boy Foods) are also customer favorites. In addition, the Bardens grow other varieties of crops including pumpkins, winter squash, blueberries, raspberries, peaches, blackberries, and sunflowers… all in all they definitely have something for everyone on their farm. This wide range of products has attracted more business partners in addition to Market Mobile. Some of their other notable customers include supermarkets like Whole Foods, Roch’s Produce, and Belmont Market. They sell to various restaurants and schools throughout the state as well.
Not even the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down business. In fact, they were still able to make plenty of local deliveries through sites like Market Mobile and Whatsgood. Pick-your-own-produce sales have also contributed to a large part of their income recently. When I asked if there’s anything the Orchard’s working on for the near future, Sandy replied: “We always have some changes. It is an ongoing process to incorporate new ways to use technology to increase our efficiency. Orchard transition to the high-density planting system has been a goal that is almost complete.”
The Barden Family Orchard may be in its ninth decade of operation, but its owners are still always finding new ways to keep up with the times.