Parlee Farms’ First Strawberry Season – 35 Years of Growing!

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Thirty-five years ago, gas was 90 cents a gallon, cell phones didn’t exist, and Mark Parlee was planting his first strawberry crop. Leaving his Chemical Engineering career behind him, Mark decide to pursue his dream of farming. His wife, Ellen Parlee, grew up in Queens, NY and had never been to a farm before she met Mark. She supported his dream wholeheartedly, and the two of them have made Mark Parlee’s dream of a multi-crop, family farm come to life.

The strawberry crop that first season was perfect. The field was filled with big, juicy strawberries. Now the hard part, how did we get customers to come pick them? There was no social media, no internet, but we had to get the word out!

With a little luck, a local newspaper, The Lowell Sun, stopped by the farm. Mark’s mother, Mary Parlee, told the paper: “They aren’t going to make it, can you please get them a spot on the front page?”. Well, we got a picture on the front page of the paper (above the fold) and that weekend our strawberry fields were filled with customers.

We learned many things that first season. Including 3 key things to starting a new business:

  1. It takes a lot of hard work to start a business.
  2. Luck also plays a factor in business success.
  3. Shameless plugs from mother’s always help!

After 35 years, we realize that my parent’s dream has come true and we are still going strong! We look forward to seeing familiar faces year after year. We are now open for our 35th season, can’t wait to see you!


Parlee Family  

Note: Included in this post is the picture that we got in the Lowell Sun of Mary Parlee (Mark’s mother) that was on the front page during that very first season.

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This post was written by Parlee Farms