From doctoring to farming, it’s all about health: Cardiologist launches 125-acre farm

  • A fig grows at Falls Farm in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Dr. James Arcoleo looks at purple cabbage at his Falls Farm in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Tomatoes grow at Falls Farm in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Dr. James Arcoleo at his Falls Farm in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Fruit trees planted at Falls Farm in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A bulldozer moves earth around where there was a forest last year at Falls Farm in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 6/7/2021 5:21:31 PM

MONTAGUE — From a garden at the end of his driveway in Conway, to a 125-acre plot of land on Old Sunderland Road, a local cardiologist has taken a decade’s worth of “practice” and put it to the test.

“I always wanted to have a farm,” said Jim Arcoleo of Conway, owner of Falls Farm, which recently opened for online sales. “What’s important to me is good quality of life, which food is a huge part of.”

Arcoleo, who may be better known in the community as Dr. Arcoleo — a cardiologist who has offices in Northampton, Holyoke, Springfield and in Greenfield at Hampden & Franklin County Cardiovascular Associates, P.C. — had been looking for property for over a decade when he “stumbled upon” two parcels, totaling 125 acres, on Old Sunderland Road.

“There hadn’t been anything good, and then we kind of stumbled on this, so we pulled the trigger,” he said.

A portion of the land, which sits in the shadow of Mount Toby, is located in Sunderland, he noted.

The formerly forested area has since been cleared to make way for farmland, where Arcoleo’s team has planted a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including peaches, figs, strawberries, pumpkins, tomatoes, asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes onions and leeks.

“You experiment with buying stuff over the years,” he said.

Over the last decade, Arcoleo has managed a roughly 30-by-60-foot garden in Conway, lent to him by his neighbor to “practice.” Until last year, when he transitioned his focus to the farm, he used that land to experiment with planting different fruits and vegetables.

“It’s one of those things where you do a little, and then you want to do a little more,” he said. “Then you learn this, and you want to do that.”

Arcoleo, a practicing cardiologist for the last 20 years, said he aims to bridge the work he does as a doctor with what he hopes to accomplish with his farm, which is to teach people the benefits of eating well. Part of his day-to-day work, he said, is speaking with patients about how to best take care of themselves — and many times, diet plays into that.

“A lot of medical problems … stem from people not taking care of themselves,” he said. “A lot of that is due to obesity, poor diets ... It generates diabetes, sleep apnea or heart attacks once you get diabetes. It opens up a whole can of worms.”

Arcoleo also hopes to make his products affordable to lower-income individuals, particularly as the cost of “good food” gets increasingly more expensive and thus out of reach for some people.

“We’ll sell stuff by the pound for people who don’t want to buy a share,” he said, explaining the website includes a tiered approach to buying to accommodate a range of budgets.

He also plans to connect with local food banks, he added.

“We’ll have extra stuff,” he said. “We’ll literally pick 3,000 pounds of tomatoes in a day. Not all of it (sells).”

Arcoleo said that, looking to the future, he hopes to have the entire facility run on solar energy by installing solar panels on farm buildings (yet to be built) in the back of the property.

“This whole property will be a completely sustainable, contained energy source,” he said.

More information on Falls Farm and how to buy products can be found on Facebook or at fallsfarmllc.com.

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne. Intern Zachary Rutherford contributed to this story.

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