"A Day In The Life"- Ed Paquette, owner of Paquette Farm
This weekly feature selects a town member and what their day is like.
The Paquette family first moved to this part of town in Shrewsbury in 1987. Purchasing about five acres of land, it was the elder Edmund Paquette's idea to grow some tomatoes. His family farmed land in Lavell, Canada for over 300 years. He worked on a farm there until the age of 20 before coming to this country.
"I did this as a favor to my dad. We started growing tomatoes with about 500 and then increased to about 20,000. We also grew corn and sold this produce at a little stand out in front where the kids and their friends worked over the summer," Paquette said.
Working full time at Wright Line in Worcester, Paquette would come home and first begin work in the field until very late at night. Not initially having farming expertise, Paquette depended on friends in the western part of the state to help him sustain the farm.
"Because my dad, having not been a farmer himself, could not really pass on knowledge to me, it was a challenge. We learn every year as each year is different with its own set of problems," Paquette said.
Around 1996, he decided to take the idea of farming more seriously. He went from a few acres to about 15 acres within the towns of Shrewsbury, Westborough, Northborough, Boylston and Grafton. He also added other vegetables to his crop.
"In addition to the corn and tomatoes, we added squash and zucchini. We do a lot of butternut squash. Right now, we peel almost 100 tons of it. We also distribute six days a week to supermarkets, much like it was done in the 1920s when these were deemed 'truck farms," Paquette said.
For Ed and those that are employed at Paquette Farm, their typical day begins later than the typical farmer. Instead of rising at the crack of dawn, Paquette's day begins at 8 a.m., but goes on until the work is done, which can sometimes be into the wee hours of the morning.
The farm is a family outfit. His wife, Toni, the glue that holds the business together, runs the stand and both of his children have spent time helping out during summer vacations from Rhode Island School of Design.
In 2000, the stand was built and is still undergoing renovations. Last year, when the town shut the road for five weeks, the business was devastated.
"People have certain buying habits. Those that bought from us needed to find their items elsewhere. When the road became assessable again, we had to start over. This made for financial hardships," Paquette said.
Paquette Farm is the only commercial farm in Shrewsbury. Paquette left a secure job to do this. He has a certain love, not only for the independence, but he is able to give something back to the community. He enjoys the smiles on children's faces when they see a wagon filled with freshly picked corn.
His days are filled with equipment repairs, 9 o'clock calls to the supermarkets to know what needs to be picked for the next day, and truck logistics needed for deliveries. His produce is delivered from the Western part of Central Massachusetts to Marlboro.
"This job is so rewarding. I know we are dependent on rain and dealing with nature but people love our produce. Our prices are also cheaper than any supermarket," Paquette said.
The farm is going to be experimenting with new crops like potatoes and cucumbers.