It’s been close to a century since the Confreda family began farming just over 400 acres of land in Cranston and Warwick, and since its inception in 1922, Confreda Greenhouses and Farms has taken pride in their longstanding tradition as a family farm with cherished values and deep roots.
“I love being part of not only a local business, but also a family farm business.” General Manager Jonathon Confreda said. “There is a huge personal value in being able to continue a fourth-generation business in Rhode Island.”
High-quality plants, fresh produce and delicious gourmet foods & deli are the norm for this family business. Their doors are open seven days a week, and each family member takes pride in the Confreda Commitment, which is a heartfelt pledge to the surrounding community.
“Our goal is to preserve Rhode Island agriculture and generate awareness through our educational field trips, community events and public outreach,” Jon Confreda said. “Our efforts have put Rhode Island produce on the tables of dozens of Rhode Island schools.”
Jon Confreda’s passion for farming and local business can be traced back to the early days of his childhood, when he would join his father picking corn in the field. They would pick corn with a massive machine that was able to pick four rows of corn at a time.
“The machine still impresses me,” Jon said. “There are so many memories, it’s hard to pick just a few.”
It can’t be easy choosing favorites when fond memories are abundant and where fresh produce is always present. Jon’s grandfather, Vincent Patrick Confreda, calls corn is his favorite crop, but he’s also a big fan of the sausage and peppers offered at the market.
“I don’t blame him,” Jon said. “It is my grandmother’s recipe.”
Jon’s father, Vinny Confreda, has more than forty years of family farming experience under his belt and he’s partial to the Confreda Brand Apple Butter Barbeque Sauce. Whereas, Jon credits his family farm’s own honey as his personal go-to and a passion project he still holds dear to his heart.
“Our honey has grown from two hives in the back of the farm to now dozens of apiaries in the Rhode Island area,” Jon said.
Although Confreda farms has grown to become one of the largest farms in Rhode Island and Southern New England, the staff is made up of a tight-knit group who all take pride in the brand. Each family member plays a pivotal role in multiple parts of the company.
Jon is a fourth-generation Confreda along with Vinny Confreda Jr., who takes a leadership role with the mechanical and operational side of the business, and Corey Confreda, who earned a degree in Horticulture and Turfgrass Management from the University of Rhode Island. Jon is the youngest of the three, and the business background he cultivated at Bryant University has fueled his goals for the future.
The fourth-generation Confreda boys hope to take the business in a variety of directions, which include bringing people out to the farm for an experience, selling to more grocery stores, restaurants and farm markets, and even distributing produce from smaller farms in Rhode Island.
“On the growing side, we want to focus on getting more Rhode Island grown food into the mouths of more Rhode Islanders,” Jon explained.
Jon’s own journey as a farm kid has kept him grounded yet ambitious.
He fondly remembers standing next to his father at one of the farm’s Flashlight Night events, where the corn maze is opened up for a family night with S’mores by the fire. He recalls watching in wonder at dozens of children rolling around in a nearby grass swell.
He didn’t understand the gravity of rolling around in the grass until a parent explained that those kids just don’t see much greenery in general.
“There are so many things we take for granted, I never thought grass would be one of them.” Jon said. “I love being able to bring families out to a real working farm, to see farm animals up close, and to see where fresh food actually comes from – not the grocery store – but the ground.”
Over the past fifteen years, keeping more than 450 acres of Rhode Island as farm land has had its challenges. That’s why so many farms have added entertainment, like the Fall Festival and Scary Acres at Confreda. While so many expenses have gone up and produce prices have remained unchanged, the entertainment aspects of the business are what keep the family’s agricultural efforts alive.
The Confreda Farm Market is open year round at 2150 Scituate Avenue in Hope, Rhode Island. The market has been a staple in the western Cranston area, a location that some have otherwise considered to be a grocery store desert.
“Our goal has been to preserve our land and to support our community,” Jon said. “For the last ninety-seven years, Confredas have been able to do that.”