Category Archives: Farms

A bit of North of Boston Military History Part III

As we’ve discovered in past blog entries, the North of Boston region has a rich military history dating back to the early settlement days.  But did you know that this history continues on even today?  In honor of Veteran’s Day, we’re bringing you a bit of modern military history intertwined with a beautiful patch of land in Hamilton – Green Meadows Farm.   And where better to get this story than straight from the horse’s mouth?  A very special thank-you to this week’s guest blogger, Green Meadows Farm.  

1The property known as Green Meadows dates back to the 1700’s. The country-style Homestead, just down the street from today’s existing farm, was purchased by Gen. George S. Patton Jr. and his wife Beatrice in 1928 and served as a family vacation spot for many years.  With the start of World War II, Beatrice moved to the Homestead permanently while her husband led his troops across North Africa and later commanded the Third Army to victory across the European Theater. Gen. Patton’s untimely death from an auto accident in 1945 put an end to his plans to retire to Green Meadows after the war. Beatrice continued to live at Green Meadows until her death.

In 1980 Major General George S. Patton, son of World War II’s Patton, his wife Joanne and their five children moved to the Homestead permanently.  Major General Patton had followed in his father’s footsteps, graduating from West Point and then going on to his own distinguished 34 year career in the US Army before retiring to Green Meadows. He was twice awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for valor. His combat service included commands in Korea and Vietnam.

George and Joanne, the daughter of a career Army Officer herself, looked forward to putting down roots. Once settled Gen. Patton decided that the land should no longer be used strictly for leisure. He wanted it to be a community asset for everyone.   Green Meadows Farm was born.

The fact that Gen. Patton knew nothing about farming was not seen as an obstacle by Patton.  He sought out experts, and was eager to learn. While still considered an “amateur” farmer, Patton took his first crop (blueberries) on the road and sold them from the back of a truck at the Topsfield Fair grounds. He hired a farm manager, added crops and started selling from his farm property. This very modest beginning grew over the years to the bountiful Farmstand and CSA you see today at 656 Asbury Street in Hamilton, on the Topsfield/Hamilton line.

More crops were planted, greenhouses added and new fields were plowed. Gen. Patton named each of his fields for fallen heroes with whom he had served in Vietnam – men he never forgot. Beginning with Yano Field in 1984, honoring Sgt. R.J.T. Yano of the Air Cavalry, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, seven fields now honor fellow veterans.

Blackhorse Field is named for the 11th US Cavalry – Maj. Gen. Patton’s Regiment. Wickham Plot honors Corporal Jerry Wickham, killed in Vietnam in 1968, a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for gallantry in action. Hays Field honors Capt. John Hays, killed in action in 1968.  Hays was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for “exceptional valor.”

GMF Fall

Pilot Field pays tribute to Maj. Gen. Patton’s heroes: the helicopter pilots of the Air Cavalry Troop of the Blackhorse Regiment – men who were key to rescue operations in Nam. The General named his favorite Labrador retriever “Pilot.”

Michelin Field is named after the rubber plantation in Vietnam that was the site of many significant battles involving the Blackhorse Regiment.

After her husband’s death Joanne Patton named a new Green Meadows Field for Operation Troop Support, the Danver’s-based nonprofit that provides care packages, cards and holiday gifts to US troops serving in war zones and across the country.  OTS also conducts a monthly family support group.

The large outdoor display at the Farmstand lets you read about the heroes and see where their fields are located.

2Sadly, Major Gen. George S. Patton passed away in 2004. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His partner and widow, Joanne Holbrook Patton, keeps his memory alive by her continued stewardship of Green Meadows Farm, his beloved second career.

In 2002 Green Meadows Farm became a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) offering members (shareholders) access to locally-grown organic produce, heritage meat, eggs and flowers direct from the farm in a new way. Members pay for a share of the anticipated harvest. The general public is also welcomed to buy a wide array of produce at the Farmstand. Drop in to see the chickens or try some of the delicious organic soup.

Thirty years after those first blueberry bushes Green Meadows Farm stands alone as the oldest, family-owned certified organic farm, farmstand and education program in the region. We invite you to join us at the Farmstand, in the fields, and at GMF festivals and special events.  Bring the kids for craft time or bring your whole classroom for an educational farm tour; inquire about our Farm Apprentice Program; dine on gourmet organic food thoughtfully prepared at one of GMF’s Farm to Table dinners; join an Elder Hostel eco-tour or book us for an unusual wedding venue and reception. With the holidays fast approaching wreaths, all natural pies, gift baskets will be featured.

Green Meadows Farm salutes Veteran’s and their families on Veteran’s Day and throughout the year.

GMFarm LogoGreen Meadows Farm
656 Asbury Street, Hamilton 01982
978-468-2277
gmfarm.com

flag at farm

Ol’ Sam Appleton had a farm…

DSC_0415The oldest continuously-operating farm in the United States, Appleton Farms was established in 1636 by Samuel Appleton.  Nearly 400 years (and many generations of Appletons) later, the farm stands as both an Ipswich landmark and a wonderful CSA providing shares to more than 800 families and donating more than 10,000 pounds of food annually to local food pantries.  But, as we learned on our field trip last week, Appleton Farms is so much more than the 200 varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers grown and produced.

Perhaps the not-so-hidden gem of Appleton Farms is the Old House.  The oldest part of the house dates back to the late-18th century (there were some later additions in the mid-19th century) but, unfortunately, the house had fallen into disrepair when the farm was gifted to the Trustees of the Reservation.  The house has undergone many renovations and, using many of the Appleton family’s photographs (on view in the exhibition Of Farm & Family: Generations of Appleton Family Portraits), was restored to resemble how it looked when the Appleton family lived there.  Perhaps most exciting is the latest renovation.  In October 2009, the Trustees set out on a “green” renovation and update which included a biomass boiler, 2 solar panels on the roof, and much, much more.  Typically, we associate “going green” with stark, “modern” design.  The Old House renovation has defied this notion by “going green” but retaining the look and character of the original homestead.  Today, the house is LEED Gold-Certified.

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The Old House is not the only “green” thing at Appleton Farms.  The farm utilizes organic farming methods, grass-based livestock production, renewable energy production, composting, and so much more.

Appleton Farms also offers 5+ miles of trails known as the Appleton Farms Grass Rides.  From fun summer hikes to winter snowshoeing, the Grass Rides are a wonderful way to explore the natural beauty of Ipswich and Hamilton.  This network of trails consists of forest, wetlands, and open fields.  Horses are welcome on designated trails as is mountain biking.  Dogs are also welcome (but a Green Dogs permit is required to walk dogs).

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The cows alone are worth a visit!

There’s so much more we could write about Appleton Farms (from cheese-making to visits with the friendly cows),  but experiencing something is so much better than reading about it (in our opinion).  Now through April 30th, their Visitor Center is open on weekends from 11am-3pm.  The Center is handicapped-accessible and is a great starting point o learning more about the farm through their classroom, research library, and family museum.  While you’re there, do not miss out on a trip to the Farm Store (open Monday-Friday, 11am-6pm, Saturday and Sunday, 10am-4pm) to pick up some of Appleton Farms’ milk, cheese, and beef as well as other locally-produced foodstuffs, art, and crafts.

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Did we mention how delicious the cheese (seen here being made on-site) is?

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   This learning space is a fun, educational environment for little farmers

We regret to say that our time at Appleton Farms was not nearly long enough – it would take at least a weekend to fully explore and enjoy all that the farm has to offer.  Even that weekend would not be enough as each season brings with it new crops, events, scenery, and activities.  Whatever time of year you plan to visit (and we highly recommend that you do!) be sure to check out their event calendar for great activities for all ages.

DSC_0475Upcoming events include:

Farmstead & Old House Tour – October 19, 11am-12:30pm

Mini Moos – October 25, 10-11am

Pasture to Plate: Cheese Making Tour – October 26, 2:30-4:30pm

Be sure not to miss their Appleton Cooks program!  They offer everything from cooking classes and workshops, to harvest-to-table dinners in the field, Friday night farm dinners, and other (incredibly delicious) events throughout the year!

(Did we mention that Appleton Farms is one of the best spots in the area for fall foliage?  A mid-October visit will  reveal a terrific landscape of yellows, reds, and oranges).

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Pick a Peck of Pretty Apples

There’s just something special about apples.  Between eating them right off the tree or making them into pies, cider, juice, apple crisp, strudel, using them as stamps, or finally “discovering” gravity because one fell on your head (allegedly), they’re probably the most versatile fruit.

We don’t know what you’re supposed to do with vaguely Venn Diagram-esque stamps either. (Photo from www.burstsofcreativity.blogspot.com)

The best thing about apples, though? Picking them.  But where should you go?

Russell Orchards – 143 Argilla Road, Ipswich MA. Open Daily – 9am to 6pm

http://www.russellorchards.com/

The best thing about apples, though? Picking them.  But where should you go?

Russell Orchards – 143 Argilla Road, Ipswich MA. Open Daily – 9am to 6pm

Russell Orchards in the fall

Apple picking at Russell Orchards runs approximately from September through October (it can, depending on the season, begin as early as August).  They offer Cortland (a crisp apple great for cooking), Gala (juicy and thus great for making juices and ciders), and McIntosh (sweet and tender, also great for cooking).

It’s a scenic, ~5 minute walk to the apple orchards, but during peak times, Russell Orchards offers hayrides out to the orchards.

Russell Orchards apples. Photo from: http://dirtywaterlindy.blogspot.com/p/venues.html

While you’re there, check out the store and bakery.  Russell Orchards is known for their delicious cider donuts and pies.  They also stock books by local authors and other assorted goods from around the world (like baskets from Ghana, handbags from Thailand, and more!).

Don’t forget to visit the rabbits, sheep, pigs, horses, goats, and other barnyard animals.  For a quarter, you can even buy a handful of feed to give to the animals.

Cider Hill Farm –  45 Fern Avenue, Amesbury MA. Open Daily – 8am to 6pm

http://ciderhill.com/index.htm

View from the hill

Cider Hill also offers scenic hayrides and Cortland, McIntosh, and Gala apples, among many sorts of summer apples earlier in the picking season.

After picking your peck of apples, stop by Cider Hill’s store.  Located in a minimally-renovated dairy barn, the store offers baked goods (watch them make cider donuts right in front of you!), specialty meats and cheeses, produce, Cider Hill Farm Brand jams, jellies, apple butter and crisp mixes, the best chocolate milk (ever!) and so much more

Cider Hill Farm store produce section

When you visit the store, be sure to check out their observation beehive!  Watch the nurse bees tend to the queen, bees caring for and feeding the babies, and bees that fan the honeycomb cells with their wings to condense the nectar into honey.  The delicious honey (made from nectar gathered from the farm’s many flowers) is available in the store.