Clyde and Veronica Fenton
Clyde was raised primarily in upstate New York where he began to learn the art and science of growing small fruits, first on his maternal grandparents' farm where they grew about a half acre of blueberries, as well as maintained an apple orchard of 500 full-sized trees; and later on his paternal grandparents' farm where his uncle planted their first strawberries to sell in the early 1970's. That berry business grew to include up to 10 acres of strawberries each year, as well as approximately three acres red, purple and black raspberries, and three acres of blueberries, which Clyde helped to manage while living on the farm.
Veronica was born in and has lived most of her life in Arkansas. She has been a physical therapist for 25 years, and has worked in just about every capacity of that occupation. She has worked in rehabilitation, home health, and nursing home care, and also in pediatrics at the other end of the age spectrum. She is currently working in several public school districts providing physical therapy to children with a range of disabilities, in addition to helping with the sales end of the business on the farm and at farmer's market (and functioning as webmaster).
Clyde and Veronica met online (yes, really!) in 1996, while Clyde was living on and helping his uncle and aunt to run the berry farm in New York, and Veronica was a physical therapist in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They married in 1997, and continued to live on the farm in New York for five years.
In 2002, they decided to move back to Veronica's home state of Arkansas, and that fall purchased their present 28-acre farm. They started Fenton's Berry Farm near Harrison, Arkansas, from scratch, starting with 360 young blueberry plants that Clyde had propagated from the farm in New York. They also put in 400 blackberry root cuttings, as well as 7,000 strawberry plants that first year. They began some field trials to determine what variety of red raspberry would grow best on their farm, and after making that determination (which they don't divulge), they put in a half acre of red raspberries.
A Little More History
The Fentons lived with their three sons in what is now The Guesthouse for the first four and a half years they owned the farm. Between August 2006 and March 2007, they built a three bedroom home into one of the pole barns on the property, without outside help, except for a much-appreciated friend helping to finish the drywalling. (Thanks, Jeff!) Clyde and Veronica recycled and repurposed materials wherever possible for this project. Veronica also put her creativity to the test in first building the bathroom vanity from scrap lumber, then mosaicking it, preceded only by practicing on a flower pot.
The family moved into The Barnhouse in April 2007, the year of The Big Freeze that swept across the South that same month. Over the next three years, The Guesthouse was just called "the other house." It was rented to regular tenants for about a year, has housed Veronica's office, and has served as a convenient place for out of town family to stay when visiting. In 2010, the Fentons began the enjoyable process of transforming "the other house" into The Guesthouse. Improvements have been made such as tiling the bathroom counter for The Garden Room and tiling the floor in the hall bathroom, installing a new electric stove, and most recently refinishing the laundry room. Many more plans are in the works and will continue to be implemented. The Barnhouse also continues to be a work in progress. More fun to come!
Fenton's Berry Farm
7221 Fork Creek Road
Harrison AR 72601