Over the years growth can be measured in terms of the following;

• The creation of the Old Guest House, a building designed as a gathering spot for individuals and groups who wish to relax before/after dinner.

• The creation of the New Guest House, a building designed to accommodate additional demand for bed and breakfast.

• The creation of The Cabin, a one room structure originally built as a stopover for sleigh ride groups-cozy fire, etc…..now used as part of bed and breakfast business

• The installation of the greenhouse where most of the annuals that dot the gardens are started.

• The conversion of the “Pig House” into an intimate gathering place.

• The conversion of the large barn into Place D’Art, a magnificent venue for weddings, family reunions, anniversary parties, etc.

• Installation of a large outdoor furnace that provides underground heating for all structures on the property.

• Landscape design resulting in multiple rock gardens, colorful gardens with mixtures of perennials and annuals, ponds (multiple)….all designed by family.

• Creation of an industrial style kitchen.

• Creation and grooming of bush trails for sleigh rides and used for tapping trees in spring….maple syrup is a big spring project!

• Expansion of the porch dining area to accommodate demand.

Of note is the fact that most of the materials used for construction are all from the property where Art maintains a respect for the environment by keeping the bush clean without ravaging it.  He has planted new trees frequently and the wood for heating is all cut and prepared by him.

Northfork is a family business with only one full time employee and one part time.  This is probably one of the most astounding features!  Seasonally part time help may be hired to assist with garden maintenance.  Art and Frances do it all!  They and Frances’ sisters are all in their 80’s and refuse to stop!  All meals are homemade from the dinner buns to the assortment of pies offered each of the four nights they are open….Wed. through Sat. Pancake breakfasts are a huge spring attraction.

Wait staff demonstrate initiative, courtesy, respect, friendliness and good humor. Everyone who visits Northfork feels like family and are treated accordingly.  This is the recurring feedback.  It’s almost like “Cheers” where everyone knows your name.  Someone celebrating a birthday is acknowledged by everyone else present.  Some family member will often sit with guests and provide a history of Northfork. There is always laughter in the three dining areas; if space is tight, folks want to sit in the family kitchen; there is always that second piece of pie for someone who has to have it; a bag of rolls goes home with an elderly person who loves them; the jars of homemade relishes and jams will often be slipped to someone on their way out; everyone stops to chat with Art in his corner kitchen chair and the ladies enjoy his kiss!  More syrup is given to people than sold; it’s all the little extras that set Northfork apart….too many to mention.

Art and Frances are generous, passionate people. They give to the community in so many ways.  The opening of Place D’Art turned into a fundraiser for a family displaced by fire; this same venue is made available at no charge for the graduating high school class; food is shared with families when a funeral occurs; when the Pontiac is covered by reporters, free accommodation has been provided; the same has been provided to Under The Pines in their continued effort to bring quality musical programming to the area. Students are treated to lunch and sledding in the winter; Frances has shared baking techniques with students both at the school and at the farm

There was a time when, from miles away, I would hear about the new projects they were undertaking and ask myself why.  Since returning “home”, I know the answer and understand it, The life they have breathed into Northfork is theirs and as long as they have the energy, stamina and passion, they must continue despite their years. They have let nothing stand in their way. When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, she persisted and from the kitchen table with her pic line in place, she’d ensure everything was running smoothly.  When Dad was trampled by his horses during the ice storm of ’98 and underwent 30 plus hours of surgery, he came home and fought to regain strength. He did.  Then he broke the femur in his right leg a few years ago.  Still going strong.  This is what sets Northfork apart.  Frances and Art Fleming.  It’s just as simple as that. 

-Colleen Fleming