A guide to the region’s best farm fare
By The Howl Street Team
Warmer days are here and so is the food — the really good, fresh kind.
As spring unfolds into summer, there’s a big bounty of nature’s best flavors to be found at local farms. We’ve rounded up our favorite roadside stands and farmer’s markets for delicious offerings that go from land and sea straight to your dinner table.
Be sure to stop by soon, and often.
1276 Broadway Road, Dracut
Slow the car down and take a good long look, because when the weather warms up there is magic happening on Farmer Dave Dumaresq’s land. Spread out on table stands each morning, you’ll find a heaping selection of vine ripened tomatoes, picture-perfect peppers, several varieties of lettuce, fresh summer berries, fragrant herbs and much more. A vine ripened tomato isn’t anything like a store bought tomato, Dumaresq says.
Tomatoes should be deep red, not pink. And look for cracks. It’s a sign the flavor is going to be that much more intense.
“Cracks are a good thing,” he says. “It gives the tomato a pungent beauty when it hits your mouth, and unless you grow them yourself, that’s hard to find.”
978-454-3434 | farmerdaves.net
204 New Boston Road, Dracut
Since 1908, the Shaw family has been churning out quality local dairy products to the Merrimack Valley. We love the family’s unwavering commitment to its customers. At Shaw’s core is the belief that people always have a right to know how their food is made. No artificial growth hormones are used in Shaw’s milk and visitors are welcome to see the farm’s happy and well-cared for cows up close at the sprawling Dracut farm. Besides fresh milk — yes, this local farm still employs a milk man for home deliveries — they also offer 60 flavors of ice cream and a bakery that whips up everything from irresistible muffins to downright addictive pies.
978-957-0031 | shawfarm.com
95 Farwell Road, Tyngsboro
Spring is prime strawberry picking time and the juicy sweet fruit is where it all started for owners Mark and Ellen Parlee, who began their farm adventure in 1988 with two acres of strawberries. Today, their farm boasts nearly 100 beautiful acres offering some of the finest pick-your-own crops in the area, including blueberries and peaches. But from early June to early July, strawberries rule here. We highly recommend the old fashioned shortcake from the Bakery at Mary’s Country Kitchen right on the farm. It’s exactly what you need to get revved up for hand picking in the fields. Entertaining guests? Nothing beats fresh muddled strawberries with a few basil leafs and some vodka on ice. Hello spring!
978-649-3854 | parleefarms.com
11 Wheeler Road, Concord
When top chefs seek the freshest ingredients — think Groton’s Gibbet Hill Grill or 80 Thoreau in Concord, heck even Jasper White’s Summer Shack — they run to the farm, and in the cases we just mentioned, Verrill Farm is at the top of the list. Fresh basil, shaved fennel, tomatoes, carrots, snap peas, potatoes, kale; if it can be pulled from the dirt, Verrill has it. Family owned and operated since 1922, the farm also specializes in grass fed beef with no additives or preservatives.
978-369-4494 | verrillfarm.com
201 Hartwell Road, Bedford
A family-owned farm and country store known far and wide for their eggs, which happen to be pulled fresh daily from the farm’s happy, free-running chickens. They also stock an abundance of fruits, produce, their own grass-fed beef and other local products from neighboring farms. While you’re there, check out the on-site petting zoo — a big hit with kids.
781-275-2545 | chipinfarm.com
400 Littleton Road, Westford
For the young and the young at heart, Kimball’s not only makes their own ice cream in over 40 fantastic flavors, but also doubles as a mini-amusement park in the heart of a quaint New England town with an impressive mini-golf course, bumper boats, batting cages, arcade and big outdoor barbecue tent. Kimball’s has grown over the years, opening ice cream stands in Carlisle, Lancaster and Jaffrey, NH, but the Westford location is housed in the same building where the family dairy barn first took off in 1939.
978-486-3891 | kimballfarm.com
Brookdale Fruit Farm
41 Broad St., Hollis, NH
A great place to stock up the pantry, Brookdale connects us back to nature where, over rolling hills and acres of farmland, seven generations have lovingly tilled the earth so we can pick our own cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and more. The farm stand is also the best place for scoring a wide variety of fresh jams, jelly, preserves, raw honey, homemade breads, gourmet pasta and Valicenti Organico Red Gravy, a sauce culled from handpicked tomatoes and organic basil harvested right in Hollis.
603-465-2240 | brookdalefarms.com
10 Pleasant St., Lexington
Nothing makes us feel closer to spring than a walk through the fragrant floral greenhouse at this family farm that dates back to 1884. The potted plants and fresh cut flowers offer a nice burst of color, and the rows upon rows of produce, meats, cheeses and locally caught seafood make this spot a farm stand favorite. Overwhelmed with choices? Sip a cup of coffee and nosh on some fresh baked doughnuts while you contemplate.
781-862-3900 | wilsonfarm.com
1150 West St., Amherst
This little fruit stand has blossomed into a local farm-fresh grocery powerhouse. So much more than another place to get what’s fresh from the fields, adherents return for the specialties, including the deli, seafood and legendary bakery. We’re thinking about their sandwiches served on fresh baked bread now. And salivating.
413-253-9528 | atkinsfarms.com
Mill City Grows
97 Central St., Lowell
For all you do-it-yourselfers out there, Mill City Grows is where it’s at for urban food production in Lowell. Besides cleaning up vacant, blighted city lots and transforming them into lush community gardens, we love the fact that this local nonprofit is giving us regular folk an opportunity to take over a small plot for the summer for growing our own harvest. In June, they’ll be launching a mobile market for delivering their urban farm harvests around Greater Lowell.
978-656-1678 | millcitygrows.org
571 Great Road, Littleton
Step through the door of this small town farm store and step back in time through nearly a century, when James and Marea Theodoros were working the land during the heart of the Depression. Jimmy’s brother, Tasso — a.k.a. “The Corn Boss” — worked the fields on his trusty tractor until 2005, when he passed away at the ripe old age of 101.
These days, this gem of a farm is run by James’ daughter, Paula Cruz and his granddaughter, 26-year-old Jamie Cruz. Jamie, who learned the art of sowing seeds from Grandad, helped usher the family business into a new era with CSA shares, a thriving updated farm stand and grass fed beef. The Cruz women are also the proud owners of the Gibbet Hill Cattle Company in addition to other livestock, including chickens, pigs, goats and sheep. A true downhome family affair, Paula’s son, David, works as the farm mechanic and her youngest daughter, Jodee, helps manage the herd.
The farm stand is as much a part of the Littleton landscape as the lush vegetable fields themselves.
978-486-3865 | springdellfarms.com
Turner’s Seafood Market
4 Smith St., Gloucester
There are fresh fish markets and then there’s Turner’s. With seafood offerings that come straight off the boats of nearby fishermen, their motto, “Anything fresher still swims,” is the real deal. This is some of the freshest catch to be had anywhere.
978-281-7172 | turners-seafood.com
246 Acton Road, Chelmsford
The fresh food movement is a labor of love for Farmer Phil Jones, who focuses on the science of growing “super food” in his greenhouses year round. Jones’ bio-nutrient dense crops have a higher ratio of nutrients to calories and are harvested with a method that replaces nutrients taken out of the soil in traditional farming. His farm stand is packed with produce, fruits, fresh flowers and the best offerings from other local farms including naturally raised grass-fed beef and free-range poultry from Lyn-Dell in Pepperell, and locally caught seafood from Cape Ann Fresh Catch.
978-256-8065 | jonesfarm.net
Wilkins Farm Stand
20 South Road, Pepperell
Home of the famous mile-high apple pie, this charming small town farm lives up to its claims. The baked goods are out of this world and the roadside stand is packed with fresh fruits, veggies, mounds of potatoes grown right on the farm and a dizzying selection of potted plants and fresh cut flowers. If anything, make your way here for some 4-berry pie before the fruits of summer slip into the past.