Maple Lane Farms is a 210 acre farm that offers pick-your-own Christmas trees and berries. Owner Allyn Brown started as a landscaper, converted an old dairy farm to a pick-your-own operation, and continues to look for new farming ideas to satisfy his passion for growing plants. Brown has become one of the largest growers of black currants in North America, a fruit that makes a dark purple juice that tastes somewhat like cranberry juice. Brown proudly states, "It's higher in antioxidants than blueberries and has three times the amount of vitamin C of citrus fruits." Black currants were banned in the US from 1911 until 1966 because the plant acted as a host for white pine blister rust, a disease that threatened the timber industry. After the ban was overturned due to conclusions that the black currant did not actively spread the disease, Brown decided to take advantage of the opportunity. Brown now grows, juices, and bottles his black currants on-site in a line of juice drinks called Currant Affair.
Besides Maple Lane's innovative black currant business, the farm also grows hydroponic Boston bib lettuce and has plans to expand to new varieties. The lettuce is grown on float beds with their roots dangling in a nutrient rich pool of oxygenated water. Lettuce heads are harvested with their roots still attached, allowing a customer to place them in water to prevent wilting and extend shelf life. Brown started with an 8,000 foot greenhouse at his Preston farm and has now expanded operations by converting a 60,000 square foot florist greenhouse in Cheshire, CT.
Christmas Trees, Juice - Bottled Black Currant, Lettuce, Lettuce - Hydroponic