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CUMBERLAND — When Jeff Storey worked at Spring Brook Farm as a teenager three decades ago, he had no idea he’d ever sign a 40-year lease to operate the place.
Greg and Kay Fowler, who own the 168 Greely Road property, continue to live in their house, but Storey has taken over operations of the farm and store.
Storey, who has worked part-time at the farm, spent 20 years in construction before signing the lease earlier this year.
The name has been expanded to Spring Brook Farm and Market, a reflection of the business’s wider variety of offerings from the original dairy farm venture, Storey said May 19.
“I want to … get much larger with the market, a lot more outside interests,” he said, adding that he hopes to build one or two greenhouses this fall.
The terms of the lease allow Storey to “build a business bigger than it already is, and paying a monthly lease back to (the Fowlers), which helps them in retirement, gives them the option to come out here and do what they want – help me, teach me,” Storey said.
The farm once had 200 dairy cows, which dwindled to a tenth of that. But Storey said he has increased the herd to 65. The farm population also includes honey bees, and 350 chickens. Blueberry bushes will be added to the garden, and the market will also sell live lobsters.
Farming was a difficult and daunting industry when he graduated high school, Storey said, so he set his sights elsewhere. But his love of the field and relationship with the Fowlers continued.
The industry has made a comeback in recent years, with increased popularity of local products, making it a more viable course for Storey to take. As the Fowlers grew older and looked to pass the torch to someone else, Storey was there to grab it.
“They were looking for the right solution to keep this place going,” he said, noting that while he leases the land, he owns all the animals and equipment.
“I’m fully invested,” he said.
Greg Fowler continues to take a hand in the farming, while Kay Fowler still helps out with the books.
“It’s the answer to a problem that we had,” Kay Fowler said of the lease to Storey. “… It was time for us to slow down. (Now) we get to do whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it.”
It’s little wonder that Fowler would want to remain on the farm. She was born on the property, which has been in her family – the Blanchards – since 1820, the year Maine became a state.
Along with its own grass-fed beef, eggs from its own chickens, and vegetables and fruits grown on site and by other local suppliers, the year-round farm also offers Christmas trees and wreaths, pumpkins, firewood, composted manure, holiday roasts, mulch hay, pies, and more.
The farm can also help customers with projects such as lot clearing, light excavation, snow plowing, and large-tractor rototilling.
Hours of operation are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3-6 p.m., Tuesday from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday by chance.
Jeff Storey, left, has a 40-year lease with Kay Fowler, right, and her husband Greg, to run Spring Brook Farm in Cumberland.