Rebuilding Sweet Brook Farm
Last night, my father, Peter Phelps, lost his main barn at Sweet Brook Farm, which housed his maple sugar operation, his farm store, the animals' shelter, their food and access to water, most of the farm equipment, and much more than I can list here. It is the start of maple season and the trees are all tapped, but he won't be able to make any syrup this year. Peter has been a farmer in Williamstown since building Sweet Brook Farm in 2007. Raised by a dairy farmer in Williamstown, it was his lifelong dream to run his own farm, a dream he achieved with wonderful success over the past 12 years. We are humbled by the community support we have experienced in the past 12 hours. I can tell you how meaningful each one of our customers has been to us over the years. Watching the barn burn to the ground last night, Peter was already brainstorming how he could rebuild the farm better and more beautiful Through the shock of what had happened, he displayed remarkable hope and resiliency. My dad is an incredibly brave and hard-working man, and I've never seen someone turn ideas into reality the way he has during my lifetime. At the request of many in our community, I've started this GoFundMe for my father so he can rebuild his dream, put maple syrup back in your kitchen, welcome your families to see the alpacas, and host your loved ones at your weddings. Long ago, my grandfather's farm on Sloan Road burned down when he was a young man, and he rebuilt it again on Woodcock Road and later expanded to what is now Cricket Creek Farm. His son, Peter, turns 57 on Friday, and while he is not a young man, he too will rebuild. Thank you, from the absolute bottom of my heart, for all of the kindness and support you have shown to our family. Sarah
We have been evaluating our sugaring operation to try to salvage as much as we can of this year's sap run. Thankfully, the weather looks good and cold for the next 10 days at least, which gives us time to install a borrowed vacuum pump (thank you Ioka Valley Farm!!) and set up a small sap collection station. We are going to have our sap processed into syrup off-site and get a percentage of the syrup back to resume supply to our (truly wonderful, loyal, outstanding) customers. The Commissioner of the MA Department of Agriculture and a representative from the USDA National Resources Conservation Service are meeting with Peter and my husband, Darryl, on Friday to see how they can help. You will be seeing more of Darryl, me, and our active 2 year old daughter, Nadia, at the Williamstown Farmer's Market when it opens in June. We will be running the stall this summer and hopefully for many summers going forward!
We will need buy a new bottling machine, bottle caps and seals, labels, shelving and market supplies (signs, table cloths, etc). We need to reroute our electricity and water lines. We need to set up a workshop to bottle and store the syrup. We will be working very hard in the next few weeks to pull this all off so we can resume business as usual. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the material losses far outweigh what insurance will cover, but the enthusiasm and love you have shown us has given us so much motivation and energy to come back better than ever. You are the reason our community is so great. We are committed to once again opening our beautiful farm to the public and repaying all of the kindness we have received.
We will keep you updated on our progress as we move forward. Because I can't ever say it enough: Thank you, thank you, thank you!