How the farm came to be…
Paul Overgaag is the owner of two restaurants in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA: the red house, and Charlie’s Kitchen. In 2009, he found himself faced with a changing economy, and sought a way of bringing better value to his menu. With a growing concern for the environment & sustainable technologies, and an interest in the burgeoning “locavore” movement, Paul decided that bringing fresh, local organic foods to center stage was the way to go. A fresh, local foods enthusiast himself, Paul’s interest in the idea of farming had been sparked by a friend who had driven past a beautiful farm on his daily commute that was now up for sale.
That February, Paul purchased 64 acres of organically certified farm & forest land in Winchendon, Massachusetts, located a little over an hour northwest from Cambridge. Complete with a beautiful, rustic barn & red farm house, he named it Charlie’s Redhouse Farm (naturally!) He invited his older brother, Kees, living in Laserre, France at the time, to come and run the farm. Kees accepted Paul’s invitation, and the rest, as they say, is history. Kees had spent several years apprenticing at an organic farm (or, “biologique”, as they say in France) prior to his arrival in the states. A truly hard worker, and a real outdoorsman at heart, Kees shares his brother’s optimism and enthusiasm about all of the wonderful possibilities for the farm, and the restaurants.
The farm itself, which was known formerly as the Big Red Barn Farm, maintained its organic certification throughout the years, but more recently had become unproductive, and was suffering from neglect. In the first season alone, the Overgaag brothers undertook a great transformation of the property. Aside from relatively small cosmetic projects like re-roofing the giant barn, clearing the ever-encroaching brush, adding new refrigeration & work facilities, they have also completed major infra-structure improvements such as solar-powered hot water & electricity, new irrigation systems, as well as nine new hoop houses that have helped to extend the growing season at both ends. It’s all pretty exciting.
Even in the first years of farming, patrons of the Red House Restaurant and Charlie’s Kitchen enjoyed an abundance of local fruits, veggies, eggs, and even meats produced exclusively for them. Delicious apples, pears, assorted salad greens & Asian greens, as well as squash, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, peas, beets, blackberries, elderberries, and the world’s most heavenly eggs — just to name a few – are among the bounty. Our customers’ appreciation & enthusiasm for these items has been truly rewarding.