By Deborah Brancic/Daily News correspondent
SHERBORN — Jim Geoghegan strode through the strawberry field, instructing his crew how to place the irrigation lines. After shouting out a few orders, Geoghegan and his helpers, mostly college students from the area, were well on their way to setting up the field to resist the heat and dryness the summer months produce in New England.
Jim Geoghegan has been running the Sunshine Farm in Sherborn ever since he earned a degree in business in college. His family has owned the farm for three generations, and he hopes to one day pass it on to his daughter.
“The weather has been a disaster for the last three years,” Geoghegan said. “It’s been very difficult. This year, I’m hoping, this seems to be the turnaround: The weather’s been great, we’ve had the best strawberry crop we’ve ever had, basically got picked out of everything, and it’s been sunny and people have been here every week.”
Newton resident Dina Glasgow said she’s been by the farm three times, since it was convenient after picking up her daughter, Ronit, from her horse riding lessons nearby. Ronit and her friend, Anna Kane, wandered through the raspberry field recently, scouring the branches for berries. The pick-your-own fruits offered this month are blueberries in August. There are also pick-your-own sugar-snap peas, and families can select their own pumpkins in October.
Geoghegan and his wife, Roberta, are in their third years of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
“This year they were able to pick two full trays of strawberries, which is unique with us because it’s included with the CSA… a lot of farms don’t do that,” Roberta Geoghegan said. “It’s a very cool thing.”
Jim Geoghegan said the farm has about 70 members in their CSA, most of whom sign up by February, and “they get roughly a bushel of produce every week.” CSA members pay the farm a fee upfront at the beginning of the season, which is used by the farm to pay for seeds and other necessities. Members then receive produce every week throughout the summer.
There are numerous other steps that Geoghegan and his wife have taken to create a more prosperous farm, including a large solar project installed last fall which “supplies all the farm’s electric needs, runs our greenhouses, refrigeration coolers,” a self-contained irrigation system, and the use of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system, an environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that allows for minimal spraying of the crops in order to keep them healthy.
While the farm used to be mostly dairy, Geoghegan said it wasn’t feasible for a family farm to maintain a manufacturing facility.
“The family sold the old manufacturing plant… they cleaned up an old building that had to go, that was outdated and expensive, and set us up to do the modern farming.”
These days, the farm grows fruits, vegetables and flowers, products which Geoghegan believes are more desirable to the public.
The Sunshine Farm is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is an ice cream window at the front of the farm stand where customers can order and enjoy a cone, open from 12 to 9 p.m. daily. The farm sells pumpkins in October and Nova Scotia trees in the winter, for the holiday season.