BERLIN - Standing in some tall grass and glancing around the property that includes a large barn and open fields, Brent Biederman likened his farm to a diamond in the rough.
His farm manager, Clayton Beckett, said it was more like a chunk of coal at the moment, but “we’re just getting some hard pressure on it now.”
Biederman is the owner of the Rooster’s Rise Farm, at 1301 Chamberlain Highway, near the intersection with Southington Road. The farm will be hosting an open house on Sunday to introduce the new venture to the community.
Although he was not a Berlin native, Biederman said his grandma lived in Meriden and he would travel down the main road connecting the city to New Britain as a kid, and he often admired the open natural aspect of the land.
With funding support from his family, he made a deal two years ago with the Chotkowski family to purchase the near 28 acres.
The property was previously a dairy farm, and was rented out by the Chotkowski family for other farms, Biederman said.
But since he has taken over the farm, he has worked to make it more functional and suitable for growing vegetables and other food sources.
“This is something worth doing,” he said. “The goal is to buy it and restore it. Keep it as a farm.”
The name Rooster’s Rise was inspired by Biederman’s grandfather who grew up on a chicken farm and worked in the food service industry. It pays homage to his grandfather and symbolizes the sort of rebirth the farm deserves, he said.
“It’s about going back to the farm,” Biederman said. “We’ve gotten so far away from natural food and food is so processed ... the goal for me would be to grow good food and then sell it directly to the end user. Have them have the best experience possible.”
“I see we get all this stuff from like, Mexico, and other places. Why can’t we be growing the food? And producing our own food?” he added. The 29-year-old West Hartford native and 2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduate worked in the engineering field for a few years and then the food industry for a bit. He said he got tired of his desk job and wanted to do something he could be passionate about.
Watching his grandfather run his own business gave Biederman the inspiration to strike out on his own before becoming fully committed to an engineering path, he said.
“There’s something to be said about being your own man,” Biederman said. “Now’s the time to try to do something like this. It’s been a lot of work, but being out here every day, honestly it’s been some of the best years of my life so far, it’s been amazing.”
Biederman said he has big plans for the farm, including possibly hosting wedding and community events across the barns, stable and open fields. He also is looking to add solar panels and use the well water supporting the farm. He hopes to one day be fully “off the grid” and fully self-sustainable.
“You’re not going to rebuild something like this….it’s part of the history,” said Biederman pointing to the old barn and the surrounding fields. “You could probably put 10 houses here and do really well ... but the way it is now … there’s a magic here.”
Biederman knows he has his work cut out for him. He is working to establish an irrigation system throughout the property and start small with a first planting. That means growing some crops and updating and opening the barn to host a farmers market and community events.
Beckett, the Rooster’s Rise farm manager, sees promise ahead for the farm.
“I would probably give it an 8 out of 10 if I had to rank it,” he said of the land, since a lot of the soil hasn’t been damaged by sunlight or used for farming. Beckett, who also manages a farm out in Storrs, met Biederman through a mutual friend.
Eventually, the pair says, the farm will have a plant-based offering with the emphasis on natural, home-grown food. The goal is to grow about 60 varieties of vegetables and fruits.
Chickens and goats will be added next year, Biederman said. In the future, cows and other animals may be added, but will not be slaughtered for food.
“I’ll be working on it forever, it’ll be fun,” Biederman said. “There’s going to be infinite projects, you just keep adding things.”
The open house on Sunday will begin at 3 p.m. and consist of food tastings of Rooster’s Rise products, local cheese, meat, chocolate and bread, as well as two yoga classes, an essential oils presentation and a paint night.
“I honestly think this is one of the greatest plots in the area,” said Biederman. “Up on the hill there you can see all the way to Hughline Tower, you have these beautiful views.”
For more information on the farm and open house, visit the Rooster’s Rise Facebook page.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.