“I grew up here,” she said.
Charpentier said the farm itself dates back to the 1660s and her family has been working the land ever since. Right now, they run a farm stand from a barn on the property where they sell nearly anything you can grow in New England.
“This particular site is where we get the 1705 date for the apple orchards, which were willed to the next generation,” she said. “Growing up on the farm when I was young my father, Howard Cook, had dairy cows and sold milk to the local dairy processers, like Monroe Dairy, which is still around.”
Charpentier said while the 1705 date comes from an ancestor’s will and is the oldest document pertaining to the farm, they know through the family lore that it was started back in the 1660s, a mere 40 years after the Pilgrims ate their famous meal in Plymouth.
“They came through Weymouth and then Mendon and spread out from there,” she said. “There was a little interruption during King Philip’s War. They retreated to the coastline and then came back.”
Charpentier said during her father’s time, they had the black and white Holstein cows, and he and his brother, Earnest, took care of the apple orchards and raised chickens as well as cows.
“Growing up, we had a lot of calves running around,” she said. “They brought their produce to the Woonsocket area. We’ve always had a little farm stand for fruits and vegetables though, right under the tulip tree in the front where we sold strawberries and corn and whatever we could produce. My uncle had a stand across the street, which had a refrigerator for the apples.”
Charpentier said her brother and sister-in law do most of the work on the farm today and also own Echo Farm in Franklin. She said the two farms supplement each other when one is running low on one produce and vice versa.
“Some of our produce is raised there and some here,” she said.
Charpentier said being a small farm in a very commercialized industry has its ups and downs, but it can be very rewarding.
“Each year’s a challenge,” she said. “This year, we had a very bright spell and the fruits are doing really well. The blueberries, peaches and apples are looking great.”
Charpentier said they use a program with a Rhode Island distributor who lets local restaurants and farmers interact. The program basically has a list of what each farm reports is available and either they deliver the food or the restaurants come and pick it up at their site in Pawtucket.
“They go as far as Providence up to Boston,” she said. “It’s definitely a good way for the farms and restaurants to connect.”
Charpentier said while the costs from fees and certification for an FDA seal of organic farming are way too expensive for them, they do practice organic methods as much as they can.
“We raise so many different fruits and vegetables it would be difficult to be purely organic,” she said. “We do use compost, rotate crops and many organic methods as well.”
Cook’s Valley Farm is located at 2200 West St. and is open Monday - Saturday, 11:30 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.