Fruits of his labor

MILFORD – Growing up as the youngest of three boys, David Quigley never got all the fruit he wanted from his parents’ blueberry bushes.

Now he and his family have all the fruit they can eat. On one acre of land surrounding his Cape Cod house on King Street nearly every kind of fruit tree and berry bush that grows in New Hampshire is thriving: apple, peach, cherry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, plums and a variety of grapes, both for wine and for the table.

King Street Vineyards is a project Quigley started 15 years ago after two maple trees in his front lawn succumbed to disease and weather. He wanted to replace them in a way that would give him privacy and let him see the sky. He wanted beauty and a changing landscape, and now he has all that and more.

Just a few yards from the road he can sit on his patio, which is his wine tasting area, surrounded by grape vines and beyond them, apple and other fruit trees.

This is a hobby for Quigley – he works in construction design – and a hobby that offers the prospect of continued learning. Over the next five years he plans to learn welding and building techniques for creating support structures, so when all the leaves are gone in the winter he’ll be left with beautiful branch structures.

King Street Vineyards is slowly growing into a business that he hopes will encourage people to adopt what he thinks of as a European model , where people pass down a heritage of sustainable agriculture, filling of every square foot of the land around their homes with fruits and vegetables for family use.

Quigley will design, install and maintain – a vineyard for any size property, with the grapes guaranteed as long as people take care of them.

He is among four New England distributors of raw grape roots, and Blue Seal in Milford has started selling his nursery stock. He also plans to take them to the Milford Farmers market, which opens for the season on Saturday, June 13 at Granite Town Plaza.

Last in March he hosted a pruning demonstration for 68 people with UNH Cooperative Extensions Agriculture Specialist George Hamilton. Early in May he had a home vineyard tour that included wine tasting. This year he might host a wine-making workshop, showing techniques from harvesting to bottling.

While not an organic farmer, Quigley practices what’s called integrated pest management, using knowledge of the lifecycles of pests to defeat them, and only using sprays for particular problems.

The biggest pests, however, are a herd of 11 deer attracted to the tender leaves of his fruit trees.

“I have tried every method in the book,” he said, including soap and red blinking lights, all of which failed, so he was forced to erect a tall fence. “A farmer’s life is not easy. You’re at the mercy of Mother Nature.”

But it’s definitely worth it. “I’m having lots of fun with this,” said the 61-year-old Quigley as he showed a visitor around the orchard. “This gives me great pleasure. As I get older, the more I want to do something meaningful for myself and for others.”

Call him at 672-7000 for a free tour.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or
kcleveland@cabinet.com.