December 22, 2014
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A growing family
Confreda family cultivates 90 years of farming
Steve Popiel
GENERATIONS: Pictured are three generations of the Confreda family, who all are or have been involved in the business during their 90th celebration last week. From left are Jon Confreda, Vinny J. Confreda Jr., Lori Confreda, Vinny J. Confreda Sr., Hermine Confreda and Vinny P. Confreda. (Not pictured are Corey Confreda and Lucas Confreda).

This year marks the 90th anniversary of farming for the Confreda family of Rhode Island. For four generations, Confreda’s has been farming what has grown to more than 400 acres in Cranston and Warwick, one of the oldest and largest commercial vegetable farms in the state.

They officially celebrated their anniversary last week during a press conference.

Attending the 90th Celebration were Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who presented a citation from the city of Cranston; Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian; Al Bettencourt, executive director of the RI Farm Bureau; Larry DiBoni, Cranston director of Economic Development; State Conservationist Phou Vongkhamdy; Hannah Mellion, food system activator at FarmFresh RI; DEM Director Janet Coit and Ken Ayers of RI Department of Environmental Management; Paul E. Brule and Lynn Weaver from FSA/Farm Credit East; and a citation was also given on behalf of the Governor’s Office.

The Confreda family’s farming history began with John Confreda on Post Road in Warwick in 1922. Before his passing in 1957, he taught his sons John and Vincent about the work ethic necessary for the tough life of farming. Vincent P. Confreda, of the second generation, tells the story of returning from the war and being greeted by his brother John, who handed him a shovel and hoe and told him, “It’s time to get back to work.”

Vinny Confreda, affectionately known as “Mr. C,” still works the farm to this day. His brother passed away last year. His wife, Eileen, nurtured their family and plenty of crops at Confreda Farms through the years.

Vincent John Confreda (third generation) took the farm to the next level in the 1970s, creating a bedding plant division, which now services garden centers in Rhode Island and as far north as the New Hampshire border to the end of Cape Cod. He grows over 160 varieties of annuals, 90 varieties of vegetables, 75 varieties of hanging plants and more than 90 varieties of specialty products.

Vinny Confreda also shared the farm experience with the public, opening a Farmers Market and Garden Center in 1997 to expand the business and enrich the community. Modeled after a classic family farm, Confreda Farms & Greenhouses has become a destination for local families, offering hayrides, a corn maze, rides for children and a food court to provide old-fashioned family fun.

Confreda Farms & Greenhouses is also the home of “Scary Acres,” a haunted hayride and corn maze that draws fright fans from all over New England each October. At the opening of the Confreda Farmers Market, Vincent Confreda credited his wife, Lori, for her constant support.

“She’s always there for me after a tough day,” said Vincent Confreda. He also thanked his staff and supporters for “helping to make 90 years of family farming possible.”

Through their farms, the Confreda family has helped preserve open space and a traditional farm lifestyle in the state.

Recent renovations and a new partnership with Bacaro of Providence have brought another exciting addition to Cranston: artisan cuisine made with fresh-from-the-farm produce. The new café menu will feature artisan salads with homemade vinaigrette, gourmet soups and delicacies like specialty meats, cheeses and olives. There will also be sandwiches created by Bacaro, grilled sandwiches from Confreda’s new Panini press, gelato and fresh-baked pastries from the Bacaro pastry chef. All of the menu offerings will be seasonal, featuring produce and herbs that can be found right in the Confreda “backyard.”

Today, Confreda’s fourth generation, consisting of Vincent Jr., a student at CCRI who works in the fields planting and cultivating; Corey, who also works on the farm and is majoring in agriculture at URI; and Jonathan, currently a student at Bishop Hendricken High School who plans to major in business management at URI, is poised to take the family business into another 90 years. The earlier generations will always be a part of the family farm.

“She still takes care of the tomatoes for me,” said Vincent P. Confreda, of his wife, Hermine Confreda.

The Confreda Greenhouses & Farms Farmers Market and Garden Center are both now open to the public. For more information on Confreda Greenhouses & Farms, visit their website at www.confredas.com. Confreda Greenhouses & Farms is located at 2150 Scituate Avenue in Hope (western Cranston).


Comments
1 comment on this item

I lived in Warwick for most of my childhood, 10 of those early years were spent on Grotto Avenue, which butts up against the Confreda Farm. Those years were very memorable to me and memories of seeing the tractors mowing, to the tall cornstalks growing, and sneaking through the hedges of my backyard just to take a peek at all the open space stays with me to this day. There was always something new to discover with the changing seasons, and I have plans to write a children's book on the memories. I also will never forget the friendship I had with Anne-Marie Confreda at Pilgrim High School. She was the nicest person.

I still can't believe after all these years that this is still farmland to this day! I hope this will always remain farmland for years to come.

Thank you Confreda's for the memories and your wonderful business.

Cheryl McNulty

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