FREEPORT — Amelia and Hal Ulery packed up their lives and their six children and moved from North Carolina to a farm in South Freeport a few months ago to start a fresh and healthy new life. They run a farm stand, have an organic garden, chickens, horses, and a goat named Stella Luna.
Amelia Ulery starts her day about 3 a.m. She bakes gluten-free and regular baked goods to sell, feeds the animals, milks the goat, collects eggs and harvests fresh produce.
The family bought a house with farmland and a farm stand on South Freeport Road and opened for business two weeks ago. The Safe Harbor Farm stand opens every day but Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the children – who range in age from 4 to 22 – each help in their own way.
Amelia said the year-round farm stand will be a source of local food, a way for the family to meet the community, and an opportunity to share their organic products with visitors, friends and neighbors.
The Ulery family is hardworking and very close. The couple had triplets – two girls and a boy – and then three years later had another child. Eleven years after that, Ian was born, and then Connor four years later.
About two years ago, Ulery said they began to notice behavioral and developmental changes in their youngest child. She said he became listless, lost weight, was unresponsive to food and stopped talking. His symptoms worsened with time, and at 18 months old, he was diagnosed with autism.
As a licensed registered nurse, Ulery began studying autism and signed up for classes on nutrition. She soon found his symptoms were not reflective of autism.
After numerous tests with neurologists, specialists and allergists, Connor was diagnosed with pancreatic cystic fibrosis. He was incredibly allergic to certain foods and his environment.
“The allergies were causing vitamin deficiencies, which were causing the eating problems, which were related to the developmental delays,” she said. “His body was not taking in nutrients properly.”
After many months of travel and studying, Ulery discovered Connor would respond to a different diet, environment and vitamin program.
Nutritionally, the family began eating a gluten-free diet, and ate more whole foods. Not only did Connor respond to the diet, but Amelia said she lost about 130 pounds.
Environmentally, the family decided it was best to move. In North Carolina, Connor received up to 13 allergy shots a month and was confined to home because of his allergies, she said.
“We had a family meeting, and everyone put their ideal living situation on a piece of paper and into a hat,” Ulery said. “This place had everything but a bonus room.”
The family wanted a home near the ocean, with room for horses, a garden and compost area, and a place to run a family business.
“It was perfect,” Ulery said. Now, Connor receives one shot a month and is able to play outdoors.
“We named it Safe Harbor Farm because this is our rescue point,” she said. “This place has changed our lives, it is a blessing for us.”
Ulery said in the nine weeks the family has lived in Maine, Conner has been outside and has started to speak again. The air, climate and gluten- and sugar-free diet has apparently improved his quality of life.
The entire family moved together and they will run the farm and help each other through the transition period.
“We have such loving children,” Ulery said. “They packed up their lives and came with us. I am so happy to be here with them.”
The family takes its leftover bread and produce to the Food Bank at the Community Center, and is getting to know the community more each day.
“We’ve met so many people since we’ve opened the farm stand,” Ulery said. “It has been a wonderful experience.”
Brenda Howard of Freeport said she has been to the farm stand about four times.
“I just love the fresh goat’s milk and yogurt,” she said. “I enjoy supporting local farmer’s markets. Freshness really pays.”
Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Brenda Howard of Freeport, left, buys a loaf of freshly baked bread from owner Amelia Ulery on Friday, May 7, at the Safe Harbor Farm stand that opened a few weeks ago. The stand offers gluten-free baked goods, fresh goat products and local produce.
Walkers on South Freeport Road stop to chat with Safe Harbor Farm owner Amelia Ulery. They bought fresh asparagus, an olive loaf and organic apples.