Farming family brings the best

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Jul 03, 2012 - 03:06 PM

Photo: When not in the field, collecting eggs and moving the chickens, milking, feeding pigs, gardening or doing construction work on the farm, the Parker family members, on baking day Friday, can be found gathered in the kitchen either preparing for Saturday sales or enjoying a quick taste. Above, James, Peter, Samantha and Grace cooperate to get the job done. Below, Rebekah, left, Benjamin, Suzanne and Philip work well together, also. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

When not in the field, collecting eggs and moving the chickens, milking, feeding pigs, gardening or doing construction work on the farm, the Parker family members, on baking day Friday, can be found gathered in the kitchen either preparing for Saturday sales or enjoying a quick taste. Above, James, Peter, Samantha and Grace cooperate to get the job done. Below, Rebekah, left, Benjamin, Suzanne and Philip work well together, also. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Photo:
If you have ever attended Mathews Farmers Market, Yorktown Farmers Market or Urbanna Farmers Market, you have perhaps met several members of this amazing family, the Parkers. If you haven’t, you are missing out on a very nice experience. Their sign reads The Parker Family Farm, and that is exactly what it’s all about.

Three years ago Peter and Suzanne Parker, with full agreement from their six children Samantha, Benjamin, Rebekah, Philip, James and Grace, decided to move from York County to a "little over 20 acre" farm in Gloucester in the Ark area. "We have always been interested in farming but it was the children’s idea that brought us here," explained Peter, who still maintains his work with NASA but has one day a week he can work from home. "They read a book titled You Can Farm and that was the beginning. We volunteered on farms for several years and then went after it. The children do it all."

After just three years the Parkers, with a schedule they have worked out among themselves, are producing at the farm 8 to 10 dozen eggs daily from 240 laying hens, and have 200 broiler pasture raised chickens, which will be available at the markets. The kitchen staff (Samantha is chief cook but says with a smile, "my mother taught me,") makes and bakes 28 loaves of bread, 60 dozen cookies and 15 to 20 pounds of granola each Friday. Come October and November, pork will be listed as a market item. And just for family use there are two cows. "We had one cow that had never been milked so we and the cow learned together."

James and Philip gather eggs and attend the large vegetable garden, but it’s Suzanne who packs those dozens of eggs in the cartons which you can pick up at the market. The girls, including Suzanne, make the crocheted and knitted items available. The boys have learned construction work and are now in the process of building a large storage building. They learned a great deal about construction from books but "a friend of ours who is a contractor came over and gave them advice on how to do some of the work, but they do it all now."