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Local Couple Continues Applegate Farming Tradition

July 28, 2016 Business, Community, Environment No Comments

By John Fitts 

CANTON — For Karen and Robert Bahre, Applegate Farm is a truly labor of love. Three and a half years ago when other family members moved on to other projects, they decided to take over.

“I just love this farm,” Karen Bahre said of the Lawton Road land.

“I just don’t want to see it go away,” Robert Bahre added. “You have to do it and hope people support you doing it.”

In the early 1970s, Karen’s parents Jean and the late Andrew ‘Pete’ Bouchard purchased land on Lawton Road. In addition to Mr. Bouchard’s Canton printing business, the couple were land lovers, keeping horses and later getting more into farming. A former printing business employee suggested the name Applegate due to the apple trees along the sides of the driveway where the house was built.

In the early 1980s, Karen’s brother Peter started a roadside vegetable stand.

When Mr. and Mrs. Bouchard sold the printing business, Robert, who works in the construction industry, built the permanent stand for his in-laws.

Later, it was run by Karen’s sister and brother-in-law, Lynne and Billy Olson, operators of Hickory Ledges farm, which now produces the popular line of spirits, Full Moonshine.

Jean Bouchard is also active and can still be heard giving WTIC radio personality Ray Dunaway the farm report on Saturday mornings. For the past three and a half years, Robert and Karen have run the stand with the help of a handful of employees and some volunteers.

The couple grows more than 30 different crop types, with multiple varieties at the farm. Those options are supplemented with a products grown and produced at other local and regional farms.

“We’re trying to make it more of a one-stop kind of thing,” Karen Bahre said.

And the couple said the idea is to bring in outside products from people they trust.

“We know they are really good at what they do,” Robert Bahre said. “If you’re going to do this, you’re going to put out the best thing you can put out there.”

The farm is a lot of work but the two love the relationships they’ve developed. One is with Don Tuller of Tulmeadow Farm in Simsbury, who was close to the late Mr. Bouchard.

And for the most part, area farmers are thrilled to help each other out.

“Generally everybody helps everybody,” Karen Bahre said. “It’s another set of friends.”

Farming may involve a lot of work but it’s an effort of love. Robert works during the day but in season, will start and end his day at the farm.

“I try to cruise on back here at the end of the day and see what we need or what has to be done,” Robert Bahre said.

It’s also somewhat in the blood. Karen’s grandfathers was a Gardner for Miss Porter’s and Robert’s ran a stand where Canton Village is today.

Robert’s grandfather Howard ran a farm stand on Route 44,

“I grew up around it,” Robert Bahre said. “We had the opportunity to go back to it.”

Applegate also runs a summer horseback riding program, also continuing a long family tradition. Applegate also has community supported agriculture program.

Robert and Karen Bahre have tried to continually add new features or varieties of product.

“People love the things we’ve done,” Robert Bahre said.  “It gives you more get up and go.”

Currently, Applegate is working on a recipe booklet.

“We thought it would be fun,” Karen Bahre said. “So many people come in and have delicious ideas and recipes.”

The stand at 35 Lawton Road is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. The farms stand phone is (860) 967-6783. They can also be found on facebook  here.

For a full-screen version of this and other galleries, visit https://johnfitts.smugmug.com. Prints and/or digital downloads can also be purchased at that link.

Readers can also help keep Canton Compass sustainable by donating at https://www.gofundme.com/canton-compass or via 15 Colony Road, Canton, CT 06019.

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