The current owners of Shady Brook Farm plan to reduce the property’s size to prepare the fifth generation of the Fleming family to take over operations.
The plan is to sell 80 acres to a “reputable, community-driven development team” for new commercial and residential opportunities. That team is a partnership that includes DeLuca Homes, which is currently building nearby Prickett Preserve with Chester County-based Envision Land Use. If zoning is approved, the family hopes for “a much-needed age-targeted residential community” like The Villas at Shady Brook, which is located about a mile away in Middletown Township.
Known countywide for its events like the Summer unWINEd Concert Series, Pick-Your-Own-Crop-Days, FallFest and the Holiday Light Show, Shady Brook Farm began in 1913 in Andalusia where first-generation T. Herman Fleming sold produce off the back of his truck and has experienced change and preservation during each passing of a generation.
Now his great-grandchildren and current co-owners, Dave, Paul and Amy Fleming have been adapting a new business plan to keep up with the ever-changing community atmosphere.
Residents have expressed concerns about Bucks County becoming a more city-like environment as developments replace vast open farmlands.
“They’re our customers,” Dave Fleming said. “We recognize that everyone might not see it the way we see it and we hope to have an open conversation about it in the planning process.”
The land is currently zoned by right for warehouse storage facilities but the Flemings said they were not interested in having warehouses on the property and recognize the impact they can bring to surrounding roads and the community.
Still, Shady Brook Farm will have a new look in the future.
The new plan will primarily focus on the community events that, family members say, bring great joy to both the visitors and the Fleming family.
While most of the business will remain unchanged, Dave Fleming said they will “probably scale some of that back,” referring to the produce, focusing on seasonal crops like pumpkins and apples. The new model calls for a restaurant, cafe and beer and wine tasting rooms, highlighting locally sourced goods.
The future will also hold a smaller version of the Holiday Light Show that will be centered in the festival area instead of the current drive-thru format, which will significantly reduce traffic.
The farm’s historic “pack house,” where produce used to be packaged, is expected to be converted into a restaurant/cafe. The current Stone’s Throw Pub will also be expanded, the area being the focus of its future entertainment center.
“We’re gonna be really focusing on events and for bigger events the space naturally leads to the festival field,” Dave Fleming explained.
The changes have “an underlying larger goal and a real reality of trying to get to the next generation,” he added.
Family businesses, he said, have a 1% chance of continuing to a fifth generation. The three sibling co-owners have a total of 10 kids ranging in age from 15 to 24 years old.
“We’ve been doing family meetings over the last couple of years, discussing if they want to be involved or passively involved, and they’ve been very receptive,” Dave Fleming said.
The next step for the farm and its development partners would be getting in contact and working with local municipalities — most of the property sits in Lower Makefield, though a portion is located in Middletown — to amend the current zoning to move forward with the advancements.
“It will be a very long process and will take years,” Dave Fleming added.
More information about the future of Shady Brook Farm is available at https://www.preserveshadybrookfarm.com/.