COUNTRY FOLKS GROWER – Bill Russell was already a 30-plus year corporate veteran when he departed former roles in the aerospace industry, plastics manufacturing and automotive sensor technology companies in 2018 to devote his future to his own businesses. At 52, he was ready for change, and looked forward to spending more time on his personal interests.
Equipped with the knowledge built by earning two master’s degrees (business and engineering), Bill’s technical vision, work experience and diverse life experiences inspired his rich, multi-faceted second careers.
Tammy Russell, Bill’s wife, has served as a caterer and chef for more than two decades, while together they co-parented their three now-grown children. Tammy was inspired to diversify her talents and invest her skills in the Russells’ launch of Pineapple Caper Café in Osterville on Cape Cod, together with a parallel catering company and a food trailer. Simultaneously, Bill also serves as a real estate agent at Sotheby’s International Realty. Their story brings a whole new definition to the term “power couple.”
In 2016, the Russells purchased a farm featuring a six-acre cranberry bog set on a 12-acre parcel, bolstered by a 24-tree orchard and a beautiful garden, established as Hollidge Hill Cranberry Company. The Marstons Mills property invigorated Bill’s sense of wonder and curiosity.
“I bought a bog without the generational connection that many families have in our region, and it had no equipment,” he said. He had so much to learn, but approached the challenges with courage and aspiration.
Today, the Russells have really expanded their farm’s “residents.” In addition to five alpacas, Hollidge Hill is home to four miniature donkeys, three golden retrievers, one black Labrador retriever, 10 chickens, one cat and thousands of bees that help to pollinate their living landscape. The couple recently launched a farm store, where they take pride in retailing local product lines, including canned goods, honey and even fleece products sourced from their alpacas’ fiber.
With all of these animals on board, and a farm to operate, the Russells sustain their budget to span their collective entities by sharing their finances across board. Their solar field installation, a modern and now familiar addition to agricultural farms, supports their income. “It was a big investment,” shared Bill, “but since it will realize a long annuity, we’re very thankful we made the commitment.”
With all of these responsibilities, it’s hard to imagine the Russells making time for fun while enjoying their next-level careers. “I traveled extensively during my former corporate career,” Bill reflected. “My current work is truly my play time.”
Now seven years deep into this lifestyle, Bill is embracing his farm aspirations while bolstering the cranberry growing industry with his grower peers. He plans to become involved with committee participation at Massachusetts Cranberries’ industry organization meetings and has leadership plans to benefit the community of growers statewide.
With all this farming at the heart of their careers, lives and household, the Russells naturally have many recipes that have become favorites in their family and across Cape Cod, many featuring their own farms’ cranberries.
The couple frequently prepares bulk batches of this chutney recipe at their Pineapple Caper Café. The cranberry-infused condiment lends itself as a spread for turkey sandwiches and a “cranberry sauce-style” side dish but loaded with texture. This recipe quantity is family-sized recipe, but can be divided or multiplied to suit smaller or larger batches.
The Pineapple Caper Cranberry Chutney
1 gallon (about 3 ½ lbs.) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup raisins
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup granulated white sugar
Place fresh or frozen cranberries and diced onion in a pot on a stove set over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally (add a little water to coat bottom of pan if using fresh berries). Cook until cranberries start to pop and break down and onions are transparent.
Add sweetened dried cranberries, raisins, cinnamon and brown and white sugars to the pot. Lower heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently, until cranberries are fully softened. A rich sauce will begin to develop.
Using a potato masher or similar tool, mash most of the cranberries into a thick paste, leaving some whole for added texture. Stir constantly, and lower the heat if needed, to ensure the fruit doesn’t burn.
Remove from heat and set the pot aside until the heat decreases to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours until chilled. Store in pint or quart containers in the refrigerator or freezer until ready for use. Chutney makes an excellent topping for toast, sandwiches or as a stand-alone side dish.
by Michelle McGrath, McGrath PR | Media Relations, mcgrathpr.com,
on behalf of Massachusetts Cranberries, one of the oldest farmers’ organizations in the United States, established as Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association in 1888.