Cheryl Troyan Pelis, the owner and operator of Cheryl’s Farm Stand on River Road in Calverton is asking the community for help keeping her more than 30-year-old roadside farm stand in business.
Last week, on Tuesday October 3, Pelis took her plea online to gofundme.com, a fundraising site similar to Kickstarter, explaining that her family’s 30-acre farm has been slowly sold off, acre by acre, and Cheryl’s Farm Stand is set on the last remaining acre of that property. “…since my dad passed away last November that one acre of land, which houses the home that my father and mother have shared, is now up for sale. If this house is sold, my farm stand will go with it,” Pelis explains on the site, noting that her family had owned and farmed the property for more than 200 years.
Pelis, who is now a grandmother, says she has operated the “small yet traditional” Cheryl’s Farm Stand” since she was just 8 years old. “I remember being so little that I had a hard time heading across the fields at 6 a.m. to help my dad pick strawberries,” she says. “Today, there is so little land left and what land there is, is being torn away from me, day by day.”
In order to keep her farm stand in business, Pelis is asking for $299,000 on gofundme.com. She raised $675 in the first 24 hours of the fundraising campaign, through six donations of varied size, but progress has ground to halt since that initial burst of charity (as of 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, October 8). Unlike most Kickstarter projects, donors do not get assigned rewards commensurate to their donations. Instead, Pelis’ effort asks the community to chip in out of kindness and the desire to see Cheryl’s Farm Stand continue to operate in Calverton.
“I want to keep our family tradition going and continue to farm. I now have grandchildren and my older granddaughter likes nothing more than to help Grandma on the farm, to ride with her daddy, my son, on the tractor,” she says. “I honestly don’t know what I will do without my Farm Stand, my little piece of heaven, a place where I was raised, where I raised my children and now where my grandchildren come to play.”
Pelis says this is the first time in her life she’s asked for help, but she really needs it. “I’ve given my blood, sweat, tears to maintain its operation and a whole bunch of smiles to its customers. I love to see the look of wonder on someone’s face when I tell them not to worry about paying. If someone doesn’t have the money for veggies I tell them if and when they have it, they can pay me. If not, then it’s my gift. This makes my heart full, I love to give. When I have, I share, it’s quite simple,” she says, adding, “If I can purchase this piece of property selling for $299,000 I will promise to continue to help anyone who needs it, to donate to food banks, places that need whatever I can give them.”