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Apr 25, 2013 11:02 AM

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

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...

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  1. 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

      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

        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

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

            1. re: StriperGuy

              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

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

                1. re: StriperGuy

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

                  1. re: Alcachofa

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

              2. re: digga

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              Thanks for the thoughtful response, Gio!

                            2. re: digga

                              "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

                                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. 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. 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

                        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

                          Ingaldbsy is open year round as well as Smolak.

                        2. re: foodieX2

                          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. 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

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

                            1. re: chompie

                              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

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

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