You have driven past this farm for years. Last Sunday, it was open to the public, with hayrides, pumpkins, flowers. food – and people came!
If you are old EG, you know the names: Fry and Bailey. The farms, across South County Trail from each other, are now conjoined, more than 200 acres of farmland owned by the extended Bailey family. The Fry Farm was among the original land grants given after the King Philip’s War in the late 1600s.
The Baileys have been farming this land for decades upon decades, raising dairy cows and corn ground into meal, including for johnnycakes at the First Baptist Church’s annual May breakfast. When Rodney Bailey died a year ago, the family started to shift into different positions.
Cynthia Bailey LaPrise (one of Rodney and Judy’s children) and her husband Scooter moved from their farm in Exeter to the old Fry farmhouse, where they live with Gladys Bailey (Rodney’s sister). It’s been a labor of love, setting up their lives amid a treasure trove of antiques and family keepsakes. That move, and Bailey granddaughter Jessica Vincent’s involvement, have breathed new life into the place, a charming step into yesteryear and today.
It was Jessica who thought a family farm day could work.
“We are really hoping to start opening up the farm to the public,” she said. “We are so lucky to have this beautiful farm we grew up on and we want to share it and have a family activity where people can come and be safe and be outside and make memories.”
On Sunday, Vincent said, a lot of visitors told her they had driven by the place for years and were thrilled with the chance to visit. There were a few vendors as well as a booth to learn about the Future Farmers of America and 4H. (And, no, you do not need to live on a farm to join one of these groups!)
Vincent said the hope for next year was more of everything, including the flowers, which proved very popular Sunday. And more than just one day a year. Vincent said she and many other members of the extended Bailey family are committed to farm life.
These days that requires jobs off the farm to pay the bills – Vincent, for instance, is an occupational therapist. But love of the life sustains the family. Even the littlest Baileys are in on the act. Vincent’s three children helped plant and work the gardens all summer long, she said.