Our Environment, Animal Tips & the Great Outdoors

Paley’s Farm Market Starts Their 42nd Year in Business

By Published On: March 29th, 2024

Paley’s Farm Market in Sharon, CT is going into their 42nd year in business this season. They offer a variety of fresh produce in the market, hundreds of hanging baskets, planters, window boxes, and more in the greenhouse, and a vast selection of perennials, shrubs, and trees in the nursery, Paley’s has everything you need for your garden. 

“Ninety percent of the annuals that we sell are grown here on the farm. That makes a difference in the quality and it also allows us to offer some different things than what you would find at a typical garden center that just buys their product from a big supplier,” Sarah Coon, the owner of Paley’s Farm Market, shared. 


Paley’s was started by Morris Paley in the 1970’s. At the time, they only offered products that were grown in their fields and many people had their own backyard gardens, so the market was closed after a few years. The building was then used as a drive-in restaurant and later, for a local masonry business. 

In 1982, Morris’ son, Charlie, opened what is now Paley’s Farm Market, which has evolved from a roadside produce stand to a garden center, nursery, and food market. In 2019, Sarah (Charlie’s sister) and her husband, Chris, bought Paley’s from Charlie in an attempt to keep the business in the family. 

Prepping for the upcoming season 

They started seeding on February 7 in preparation for their March 23 opening date. 

“It feels like it’s been a while,” Sarah laughed. “We’re down here a lot, and when it’s cold out, it’s fun to work in the greenhouse.” 

Paley’s has two greenhouses brimming with beautiful plants, including pansies, geraniums, herbs, and much more. 

Though the season isn’t in full swing just yet, Sarah and her crew are already working eight plus hours a day to prepare for the summer season. 

“Once the season really gets going, it gets way more demanding,” Sarah explained. “May is typically our busiest month of the year with the plants, and it’s also when we open the produce market, too.”

This year, Paley’s has also made some adjustments and upgrades to the farm to increase their efficiency. They recently installed flood tables in the greenhouse, which allows them to automate the watering of the plants. 

“One of the reasons we wanted to install these is to repurpose the water,” Sarah explained. “We’re conserving water and saving wastewater from going into the ground. It’s going to be a big adjustment because it’s so different from our other setup, but we’re hoping this will save the one and a half to two hours that we spend watering daily. That’s a significant amount of time for us.” 

They’re going to see how the flood tables work in the one greenhouse this season, but they hope to install them in all of the greenhouses going forward. 

They also built a new high tunnel this season so that they can start their tomato crop earlier, extend the season longer, and keep the tomatoes protected from the elements. Additionally, they’ve also installed a secondary well for watering. 

“We will continue to grow our usual outdoor tomato crop, but the tomatoes grown inside will be available earlier in the season. The high tunnel is a more controlled environment and the crop will be protected from excessive water, drought, and late frost,” Sarah said. 

Challenges of the weather 

Like all other farms, Paley’s has also struggled with the weather during the past few seasons. The drought in 2022 caused them to rethink their planting areas. As a result, they decided to plant in the low fields in the back of the farm that are close to the river. However, last season, there was an excess of rain, which caused a lot of those crops to be washed away. 

“It was completely flooded. Our pumpkins last year were a complete disaster because of the rain. They can’t tolerate it,” Sarah said. 

Thankfully due to their irrigation system, their tomato crops were okay both years. 

“We’ve been lucky because we feel like when one thing fails, another thing prospers. We just hope it continues to balance out.”

The weather is the biggest challenge because there’s no control over it. “When the weather is nice like it is today, you’re like, ‘okay, we’re going to have a great year.’ Last year, we had days like this early on in the season and then we got a big stretch of cold weather and then rain, and it really slows everything down. We’re trying to prepare for all kinds of weather and make decisions based on that.” 

Rewards and fostering community connections

One of the most rewarding parts of the work for Sarah is getting to work outside all day everyday. Before she took over at Paley’s, she worked an office job and was inside most of the time. Since taking over at Paley’s, she often finds herself yearning to get outside – even in the winter when the weather isn’t as nice. 

Besides being outside, one of Sarah’s favorite things is the deep-rooted connections that Paley’s has made with the community. 

“We have customers when they come in in the spring, it feels like a family reunion,” she said. “Sometimes there’ll be a group of people in the store, and they’ll be shopping, but also chatting with one another. That always makes me feel really good.” 

Sarah also values her employees greatly. “Renee has worked at Paley’s for over 25 years! Heidi and Kate manage the nursery and greenhouse, and have a wealth of knowledge and are always willing to help. Carly has been with us for two years and Ethan just finished his first year. We also hire local high school and college kids to help us and they are amazing, too!” 

Additionally, when Paley’s was hit by a tornado in 2020 and two of their greenhouses were destroyed, it was with the help of the community volunteers that they were able to clean up and reopen so quickly following the disaster. 

“They just showed up in our parking lot the following day and we were able to clean up the mess and open our store the very next day,” Sarah said. 

Paley’s also strives to improve and offer more locally grown produce. While they don’t grow everything at the farm, they have developed relationships with other farms in the CT/NY region so that they are able to offer more locally grown produce. 

This year, they will be working with the Northwest Connecticut Regional Food Hub, which will give them access to a whole network of farmers that they haven’t partnered with yet. 

“We’re really excited about this because sadly, it seems like we lose one or two farms each year,” Sarah said. “We’re always trying to find new sources. We push pretty hard to have local produce, that’s our big thing.” 

Looking ahead 

Long term, Sarah would love to have a bakery at Paley’s. “My ultimate dream is to have a bakery and a kitchen so that we could offer prepared foods, too,” Sarah explained. 

In the meantime, Sarah and Chris are focusing on making the farm as efficient as possible, both for themselves and their customers. 

Paley’s Market officially reopened for the season on March 23 and they’re open seven days a week. To learn more about Paley’s, visit their website here, or visit them in-person at 23o Amenia Road (Route 343), Sharon, CT.