By Alex Putterman
EASTON – It’s 7:30 a.m. on a weekend morning and Irv Silverman’s voice suggests no degree of weariness. The 70-year-old farmer can’t afford to be tired – it’s autumn after all, far and away the busiest time of year for agriculture and agritourism, and the namesake of Silverman’s Farm has lots to do.
Silverman’s Farm, which dubs itself “the total farm experience,” is located in Easton, on almost exactly the spot it began more than 90 years ago. Founded by Ben Silverman, the farm has been run by Irv, his son, since the 1970s. What began as a producer of all kinds of fruits and vegetables has evolved with the times into a tourist attraction, with tractors to ride, animals to see and fruit to pick.
A principal goal of Silverman’s Farm is to expose younger generations to the farm lifestyle that the Silverman family so enjoys.
“Today’s generation doesn’t see live animals,” Irv Silverman says. “They don’t see fruit on trees. A lot of the younger kids think apples come from Super Stop & Shop.”
Silverman is so interested in sharing farming with as large and young an audience as possible because the farm was such an integral part of his own childhood. He and his seven siblings – six sisters and one brother – grew up working on the farm after school, and he assumed a full-time position at his father’s business when in college at the University of Bridgeport.
While his siblings moved on to other pursuits, Silverman grew more and more involved on the farm until eventually he was in charge. What began as a continuation of what his father had started became his own destiny. “It’s not so much to continue my father’s legacy,” he says. “It’s becoming my legacy.”
Today, Silverman and his wife Nancy helm the farm. Their three daughters have spread out throughout the country, leaving no logical heir, but Silverman isn’t too concerned about the future. When asked how much longer he’ll be on the farm, “About thirty more years,” he replies without hesitation and without laughter, before finally chuckling at the suggestion.
Someday, Silverman says, he will lease the business or find someone else to run it, but he is insistent the family will never sell the land to realtors. Besides, the farm’s well-being years into the future is considerably less pressing than the happenings of the next few weeks. Fall is agritourism season, and there are only so many weekends for pumpkin-picking and hay-playing. In fact, one rainy autumn Sunday can be difficult to overcome in an industry that largely spans Labor Day to Nov. 1.
The Silvermans seize every opportunity to expand their profit streams (after all, “no one gets rich in farming,” Irv Silverman says). They sell apple cider and maintain a market that sells homemade pies and “country gifts,” not to mention Christmas trees and various Chanukah trinkets. With Sukkot approaching, the Silvermans, who belong to Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport, will sell cornstalks and gourds to decorate sukkot.
At this time of year, children show up when the farm opens at 9 a.m. to grab apples from trees, gaze at farm animals and enjoy the total farm experience. In the meantime, Irv Silverman will do all in his power to maximize their enjoyment. He’ll never be tired of farm life.