Oldtimers knew the plot of land on the west side of North Avenue, just up from Long Lots, as Rippe’s Farm.
Those who have been here a while remember when a guy named Buster sold fruits and vegetables there, from a roadside stand.
To newcomers it’s a cul-de-sac with homes that — in a nod to its agricultural past — were designed to look in part like silos. Greystone Farm Lane is a nonsensical name created from thin air. It might as well be called Buckingham Palace Drive, or Stonehenge Way.
But it’s a nice, neighborly area. And at least one resident pays homage to the area’s previous life.
For the past 12 years, Julie Beitman has lived in the 1st house on the left. An original Rippe barn still sits on her property (it’s transformed into a “man cave,” where her sons play music). She and her husband have unearthed foundations from other farm buildings too.
The nutrient-rich soil is gone — the builder skimmed it off, and sold it for profit — but Julie has coaxed amazing trees and plants out of what is now hard clay.
She planted 16 fruit trees.
She grows lettuce, tomatoes, 5 varieties of hot peppers, peas, eggplant, grapes, cucumbers, apples, cherries, 3 varieties of plums, and herbs. She and her son Andrew — a rising Staples senior – have cross-bred Bartlett and Bosc pears.
When her string beans grew 40 feet tall, she called in neighborhood kids to pick them.
I didn’t know you could grow cotton in Connecticut, but Julie does. (The seeds came from Israel.)
In the winter, Julie makes maple syrup. This summer, she’ll jar peaches.
She’s a completely self-taught gardener. But she has learned well. Everywhere in her yard, something grows.
“It’s my therapy,” Julie — who also owns a jewelry business, and plans parties on the side — says. “It’s a labor of love.”
But beyond planting, pruning, picking and placing peppers on the ground to keep animals away, she does not do much. “It takes care of itself,” she notes.
She’s being too modest. 1 Greystone Farm Lane is a wonderful bounty.
Mr. Rippe would be very, very proud.