If you like going to pick your own berries, you may have visited, or heard of, Saltonstall Farm. And if you’ve had the pleasure of sampling their strawberries at our local farmers’ markets, you’ve probably met Kyle, one half of the dynamic duo behind Saltonstall Farm. You may know him as the man who asks young visitors: “Would you rather have candy or this strawberry?” More often than not, the kids side with the strawberries, and for good reason. Kyle and his wife Sophie are passionate about what they do, and it’s evident in the quality of their produce.
The story of Saltonstall Farm is one of family and community. The farm’s roots run deep with Dr Saltonstall, Sophie’s Grandfather, settling in Stratham as the town doctor after serving in WWII. He bought a quaint farmhouse on acres of land that eventually became the farm where Sophie grew up. This is where her parents took the reins transforming it into an organic berry farm, initially known as Berry Hill Farm. Back in the late ’90s, they were pioneers in the realm of organic berries.
One fascinating aspect of Saltonstall Farm is their logo. Sophie’s mother, a talented graphic designer, originally created the logo for Berry Hill Farm. This past winter, Sophie and Kyle adopted the logo to pay homage to her mother’s vision. It’s a way for Sophie to honor her parents’ legacy, not only in the logo but also in the farm’s organic values. As she put it, “It’s in my DNA”.
Kyle, on the other hand, had dreamt of owning a farm and running a bed and breakfast. His journey took him from being a special operations combat medic to pursuing a pre-med degree, all with the goal of saving up enough money to realize his farming dreams. Fate intervened when he met Sophie, and it turned out to be a perfect match.
He dreamed of a farm, and she already had one.
Sophie had always planned on taking over the family farm. After college, the couple moved back to Sophie’s childhood home and were ready to hit the ground running. Unlike many other young farmers, they own the land outright, allowing them to set their sites on organically grown berries- a fruit that takes years to reach full production growth. At that time, Kyle went back to school for a degree in Sustainable Agriculture at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). There, he looked for practical knowledge, avoiding traditional coursework and talking straight to the professors. Through his studies he built valuable connections in the sustainable agriculture community that he still taps into today.
Currently, Saltonstall Farm is expanding its berry production. They planted their first acre of strawberries last year and added another acre this year. With luck on their side (hopefully no late May frost again) they’re on track to have ten times as many berries! They’re also planning to introduce high tunnels for strawberries next year, extending the strawberry season into the fall. In the meantime, they’re working on acidifying another acre for blueberries, following innovative methods championed by Dale Ila M. Riggs for berry production.
The couple was not initially planning on offering pick-your-own berry events this year; “There’s a lot that goes into [pick your own] and we weren’t sure that was right for our farm,” says Sophie. But this year they ended up having more strawberries than they could harvest. At the last minute, they decided to post on social media that they would be hosting a pick-your-own berry event the next day. To their surprise, people came out in DROVES to happily pick strawberries on such short notice! Sophie and Kyle were stunned at how successful the day was (especially as it poured all day) and were so appreciative for the support of their community.
One of the farm’s unique events is their Turkey Processing Day. For 5 months, the couple raises turkeys on all organic feed in a mobile coop that is moved multiple times a week (up to once a day as they are fully grown). When they are fully grown, they invite participants to get hands-on experience in processing their own turkeys. You even get to catch your own turkey (hint: start low, catch them by their feet, and pull up)! It’s a meaningful and educational event that invites participants to create a deeper connection to their food. They expect the turkeys to be 20-30 pounds this year! You can also indulge in Kyle’s “Last Year’s Turkey Chili” at the event, which he insists could take on anyone’s chili recipe.
Another way they get their community involved is by welcoming guests into their truly gorgeous 4-story barn. The barn, equipped with a rock-maple live-edge bar and newly renovated bathrooms, serves as an event venue and community gathering space. Sophie and Kyle take immense pride in offering their space for life’s special moments, from weddings to birthdays, baby showers and anniversaries. When asked how it feels to share the farm with their community or watch a bride walk through their wildflower meadow to the altar, Sophie warmly said, “it makes us feel like our work is meaningful.”
If you want to visit for a weekend away, they also offer a farm-stay in their three-bedroom on-site AirBnB rental that is undergoing renovations this winter!
Looking ahead, Saltonstall Farm has ambitious goals. With 25 farmable acres in total, they aim to plant fruit across all those acres within a decade. They’re also in the process of obtaining organic certification. The “seconds” will soon go into value-added products – frozen fruit and frozen fruit products. Keep an eye out for Kyle’s future popsicle venture, a testament to the farm’s innovative spirit.
If this blog post has you hankering for berries visit their farm stand for raspberries and merchandise located at 61 Stratham Heights Rd, Stratham, NH 03885
For wedding-related content and updates follow them on Instagram @saltonstallfarmweddings.
This farm is more than just a source of delicious local berries; it’s also a community hub that continues to thrive and evolve, driven by the passion and dedication of Sophie and Kyle Saltonstall.