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Is there anyplace nearly as good as Wilson Farms further North??

chompie Apr 25, 2013 11:02 AM

There's days, like today when I really want to go to Wilson Farms but at this time of day we will be spending most of the afternoon in snail pace traffic to and from Wilson, so wondering if I can head in the opposite direction up 128/95 and find anything that comes close for produce, baked goods and sheer wonder...

  1. m
    maxevan Apr 25, 2013 11:12 AM

    Up Route 2/117 in Concord is Verill Farms.

    In Acton is Idlewylde Farms.

    Verill is smaller then either, but the baked goods and local produce are great. They also have wonderful prepared foods. I love Verill, as they are very in touch with the local agricultural community.

    20 Replies
    1. re: maxevan
      digga Apr 25, 2013 05:21 PM

      I'm with you, maxevan. I love Verrill. I will never understand the love for Wilson's, even though we live within a 15 min bike ride away now. I didn't enjoy fighting off the soccer moms in luxury SUVs in the parking lot (yeah, we used to stopped by on Sunday afternoon jaunts out RT 2) and the produce always seemed straight outta Shaw's or Stop n' Shop (i.e., looked superficially good, but shipped in from far away, as the store labels indicated). Sample size of n=3.

      Someone please set me straight if I am wrong!

      1. re: digga
        danslemarais Apr 25, 2013 05:28 PM

        I think it depends on when you go -- in winter, most of their produce is from far away, but in later spring, summer & fall much of what they have is their own produce, for decent prices (their prepared food does get expensive). It's also a fun "experience" if you can get there when it's not too crowded -- especially in the fall, when they have some of the best pumpkin / gourd displays around, and delicious fresh cider donuts.

        1. re: digga
          StriperGuy Apr 26, 2013 06:07 AM

          I've also been very impressed with the quality of the baked goods at Verrill.

          1. re: StriperGuy
            Alcachofa Apr 26, 2013 06:33 AM

            Pies, especially.

            1. re: Alcachofa
              StriperGuy Apr 26, 2013 06:49 AM

              Their pies are spectacular.

            2. re: StriperGuy
              StriperGuy May 21, 2013 09:04 AM

              So having done a more systematic sampling of Verrill's baked goods:

              - Pies are generally excellent, including the pecan a personal fave.
              - Christmas cookies wonderful
              - Chocolate loaf cake with chocolate frosting. A bit steep at $8 for a smallish loaf, but pretty good and not too sweet.
              - Cupcakes, some are good, some are waxy/frosted and forgettable. Carrotcake cupcake almost inedible.
              - Coconut macaroon with chocolate dip. Waxy chocolate dip tastes like crappy couverture, coconut part is okay.
              - Coconut, butterscotch, almond bar tooth achingly sweet, but not bad in a pinch.

              1. re: StriperGuy
                Science Chick May 21, 2013 05:09 PM

                That sounds like some intensive research, Striper......hope you didn't strain yo'self!

                1. re: Science Chick
                  StriperGuy May 22, 2013 06:33 AM

                  Straining my belt buckle.

                2. re: StriperGuy
                  Alcachofa May 22, 2013 06:35 AM

                  I'm surprised that they even have cupcakes. Could you tell if they were they made there, or outsourced?

                  1. re: Alcachofa
                    StriperGuy May 22, 2013 06:57 AM

                    I think it is all made there, but I think they take some shortcuts...

              2. re: digga
                maxevan Apr 26, 2013 05:05 PM

                agree on all points. this is the reason we stopped going to Idlewylde as well,. too crazy, too many soccer moms, etc.
                Verrill is such a small family place. When I go in with the SO and my toddler, they know us, and always make appoint to say hello. Great special events as well.

                1. re: digga
                  Gabatta Apr 27, 2013 04:21 AM

                  What places have produce out of season that hasn't been shipped from far away?

                  As far as the crowds. I try not to shop anywhere on the weekend. It always sucks my will to live.

                  1. re: Gabatta
                    macca Apr 27, 2013 05:59 PM

                    Agree! I like Wilsons- my mom loves their oranges, and
                    I have always had good luck with the produce from their farms. I have never encountered the crowds I read about, but I always go as soon as they open on Sat mornings- and am in and out of their in no time.

                    1. re: Gabatta
                      digga Apr 28, 2013 05:15 PM

                      Our visits to Wilson had always been in the middle of the summer, which is why we had been disheartened by the amount of shipped-in produce (of course, they have some local stuff, too)...and since we moved to their neck of the woods, I have visited during the week. Still a big-time CF. I'm happy to have Busa within biking distance!

                      Whole Foods Medford is one of my go-tos if I have to shop on the weekends - it's usually pretty tame.

                      1. re: digga
                        Science Chick Apr 30, 2013 11:41 AM

                        My experience with Wilson is that in the peak of season they sell mostly their own seasonal produce. It's a good sized farm and they manage to produce quite a bit. Yes, they carry items shipped in, too, but so does every other grocer/farmstand selling something not locally produced or not seasonal.

                        1. re: Science Chick
                          digga May 2, 2013 04:53 AM

                          I stopped by Tuesday afternoon to increase my sample size (n=4). Much more sane shopping experience. I looked out over the store to see nearly every piece of produce wrapped in plastic. The organic section was TINY (and many of the veggies in that section were looking over-the-hill, and I'm the type of person who doesn't need picture perfect-looking produce, as long as it's not rotting). The kicker was when I asked a couple of guys about the salmon they were selling, one of them told me it is farmed. Then they pointed me to the "guy who would know the answer." He told me that it is wild Atlantic salmon. Huh? Am I missing something? I thought there is basically no wild Atlantic available to us in the Northeast, but someone please correct me if I am wrong. I passed on it.

                          Not trying to be cantankerous, just sharing my personal experience.

                          1. re: digga
                            Gio May 2, 2013 05:15 AM

                            To quote from the Wilson Farm web site, "Bay of Fundy, Farm Raised Salmon

                            Our “nutritionally superior” atlantic salmon are raised in the Bay of Fundy in Canada. It is the bay’s shape, begun as a rift perhaps 350 million years ago, that amplifies ocean tides. Twice a day, 100 billion tons of seawater flood into the bay, creating the best environment in the world in which to raise salmon. Our salmon in delivered to Wilson Farm less than 24 hours from harvest."


                            PS: I can vouch for the freshness and superior taste of the salmon but the scallops are out of this world!

                            1. re: Gio
                              digga May 2, 2013 05:28 AM

                              Thanks for the thoughtful response, Gio!

                            2. re: digga
                              Gabatta May 21, 2013 09:58 AM

                              "nearly every piece of produce wrapped in plastic" ?

                              Are we sure we're talking about the same place? We are at Wilson about 2x per month and that's something I have honestly never seen. They bag some bulk produce for convient grab and go near the entrance, however the main produce section is almost exclusively naked to touch and smell if desired.

                              1. re: Gabatta
                                macca May 21, 2013 10:01 AM

                                Agreed! Not sure If I have actually bought anything- except potatoes and spinach- already wrapped at Wilsons. That is one reason I like shopping there- as I need LOTS of some items, and just a bit of others.

                  2. Gio Apr 25, 2013 11:24 AM

                    We take our CSA from Wilson's but at least a couple of times a month all year we head north to Tendercrop Farm in Newbury. It's on Rte. 1A. We have been shopping there just about since they opened in 1986. Their meat is as close to being organic as they come, and their own produce is really quite exceptional during the growing season including "pick-your-own" fruit. Lately, they have been sowing unusual varieties of ordinary vegetables. The range of produce is comparable to Wilson's. Everything one would want from a local real farm stand. Oh, and they do rustic very well.


                    ETA: Tendercrop is now selling several of "their own" early Spring vegetables but Wilson's is relying on shipping in.

                    1. f
                      foodieX2 Apr 25, 2013 11:29 AM

                      Russell Orchard is in Ipswich, is that too far? I haven’t been in 2 years once we finally gave up on Cranes Beach and starting heading south but it had been a regular stop for us starting every June for a long time. Wonderful cheeses, especially the marinated goat, great baked good like donuts, bread, pies etc. You can buy eggs, milk and all kinds of produce.

                      Russell Orchards
                      143 Argilla Rd.
                      Ipswich, MA

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: foodieX2
                        chompie Apr 25, 2013 12:15 PM

                        Verrill is good, its the same traffic for us as Wilson, and we have a relative who works there, so we get it easier when we visit family! Russells and Tendercrop are good suggestions, a bit of a ride but we go sometimes. Actually , I am not sure now if I have been to tendercrop, cuz I forget the names of the places up there, but I think actually we might have been to Arrowhead and LongHill but not Tendercrop.. so will try it.
                        I am looking for a shorter ride too. Anybody know Utopia Farm in Manchester and if it is open for the season yet? Or Ingaldsby? or I see a couple places listed in North Reading..

                        1. re: chompie
                          treb Apr 25, 2013 04:43 PM

                          Ingaldbsy is open year round as well as Smolak.

                        2. re: foodieX2
                          Isolda May 2, 2013 04:57 PM

                          Russell Orchards has cider donuts that will go down in history. We live in Lexington, within running (but probably not walking distance) of Wilson Farms, but I'd rather drive up to Russell Orchards in the fall when you can smell those donuts from the road. The first time we tried them, back when they were Goodale Orchards, I bought 6 of them, and we ate them on the way to the car, then went right back in to stand in line for more.

                          Yeah, their produce is good, but it's the donuts I will take a field trip to buy!

                        3. Gio Apr 25, 2013 12:25 PM

                          I don't know where your starting point is, Chompie, but there is Connor Farm in Danvers. Not as big as the other farms, but in season pretty good produce, etc. We got our first CSA there but then Wilson's began theirs.

                          Connors Farm - 30 Valley Road (Rt. 35) Danvers, Massachusetts 01923 - 978-777-1245

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Gio
                            chompie Apr 25, 2013 12:32 PM

                            thanks! Connor and Canaan opening in May. (Canaan open for a couple types of flowers now, but full open in May)

                            1. re: chompie
                              Gio Apr 25, 2013 12:56 PM

                              I forgot about Canaan Farm. Wenham right? Haven't been there for a few years because my wheelie can't travel on the gravel. They sell the produce from local home gardeners too!

                              But I see they are accessible now. They must have paved. Good news.


                            2. re: Gio
                              srgoodman Apr 25, 2013 07:35 PM

                              I like Connors, too. They grown their own peaches, which are absolutely amazing.

                            3. p
                              phatchris Apr 25, 2013 01:13 PM

                              Green Meadow in South Hamilton has great organic fruits and veggies.

                              1. srgoodman Apr 25, 2013 07:34 PM

                                In season, Marini Farm in Ipswich is one of my favorites. I won't eat corn from anywhere else. Greenhouse opens on Saturday, Farm stand proper opens May 30.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: srgoodman
                                  chompie Apr 26, 2013 07:31 PM

                                  Is Marini the same as Russel Orchards or a different place?

                                  1. re: chompie
                                    srgoodman Apr 26, 2013 09:04 PM

                                    It's different. Marini Farm is on LInebrook Road, which intersects Route 1.


                                    1. re: chompie
                                      Gio Apr 28, 2013 04:13 AM

                                      If you go to Marini continue down Linebrook and take the first left - One Mile Rd. I think it is - at the end of this road is The Clam Box! Then take another left and after a few miles you're in Newbury and Tendercrop will be on the left as you drive along to Newburyport.

                                      1. re: Gio
                                        chompie Apr 28, 2013 06:28 PM


                                  2. opinionatedchef Apr 28, 2013 05:19 PM

                                    chompie, i have heard people talk positively about a produce store in wakefield center -just south of sushi island- but i have never been. prob not what you're seeking but thought i'd mention it.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                                      Chris VR Apr 28, 2013 05:56 PM

                                      You must mean Farmland but I've never heard of them being much of a standout for produce. I've been in there a handful of times and they are more of a grocery store than a farmstand.

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef
                                        chompie Apr 28, 2013 06:26 PM

                                        thanks for the suggestion. I know Farmland well. They are a family run grocery ,prepared foods and salads, bakery and produce store. A little like a smaller version of Henrys in Beverly. The produce is a step above supermarket for sure but not Wilson Farms. The one thing I go there special for, as do many others, is their fruit salad. They cut tons of big chunks of fruit a day so it is always fresh and extremely reasonable and often good quality. We used to get a lot of their prepared foods, like zuchhini calzone, bean salad, potato salad etc but kind of tired of it, and had a couple problems that made me less inclined to go.. eg..salt mistake in the rolls making them extreme salty, and artichoke fuzz/choke in the fried artichoke hearts etc. but they are pretty popular. The bakery is called Guillios, very inexpensive mediocre Italian baked goods. They used to have really good fresh pasta sold by the bag. lots of varieties but I think they only sell it frozen now..not sure

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