Another gorgeous Saturday morning in New England and I packed the ice packs in the cooler bag. Grabbed my Gran's harvest basket and sprayed on the sun screen. I packed everything in the convertible trunk and set the ipod to a favorite playlist and headed out.
First stop was the Waltham farmers market. I will admit to being disappointed this year, perhaps it is still early, but there are only two vendors selling produce, okay three, if you count the ladies with the greens. There is no way I can get to the two other newton farmers markets during the week because of the hours they run, not to mention they don't even start until after the 4th of July, so I rely on Saturday markets to stock up. Oh you crazy California kids who have year round farmer's markets go ahead laugh as you watch the East coast brethren suffer with just a few measly months a year. Wipe that smug look off your face right now, I can see you. Waltham market is great if you want baked goods, eggs, photography, purses, soap or music, not so great for vegetables. I'm going to hope more vendors add on later in the season. I did manage to get a very large zucchini for $1.00. That will get sliced in rings, dredged in spiced flower and sautéed up with some haloumi for dinner next week. You can keep all your tiny zucchini, give me the giant-seed-filled-hidden-under-the-leaves-until-it's-a-baseball-bat-size zucchini any day. The red leaf lettuce looked gorgeous so I grabbed one for salads and a nice punnet of red gooseberries will make a lovely fool later in the week the gooseberries lightly poached, cooled and then mixed with crushed up meringues and whipped cream. When husband heard the plan he said, why bother, you married one - those silly Brits.
I left the market and headed out West on route 20 through Weston and Lincoln to Concord and picked up rte 2. At the rotary I headed off the 2nd spoke towards Acton and route 119. I lived in Acton for a few years so this strip of the road is quite familiar, just a few malls and plazas with grocery stores and clothing stores, but I did notice a big Brazilian presence with flags on the roadside and a shop in one plaza called Popular Brazil. I'll have to go back and check that out on another trip. I decided I would head all the way out to Ashby mentally marking all the places I would stop on the ride back. Why Ashby? Ashby has the finest stretch of 119 a stretch that is absolute heaven to drive. It winds though Willard Brook State forest on a freshly paved piece of tarmac with gorgeous curves, shaded tree canopy over head, streams on the side, places to pull over and picnic, oh, and did I mention the curves? Panther really, really likes curvy roads. I drove it to the end of the stretch, turned around and wound my way back down again with a very happy grin on my face. Now it was time to start hitting the farm stands.
First stop was the Spaulding Cooperage. The building hangs right over the falls and the sound is just gorgeous.
Inside is an antique co-op filled with old and new doodads, gee gaws, shappy chic and grandma's closet. I poked around for old tea towels and kitchenalia and headed out again.
My first farm stand stop was Greg's Farm in Pepperell a stand who tempted me with a sign that said Butter and Sugar corn. In June? In Massachusetts? The ears were very small, but the corn perfectly formed. I am guessing they must have a field further south near Connecticut and they move it up here. None of the corn fields I passed are high enough to be producing anything yet. But I succumbed and bought a few ears. They had local peas and strawberries and the first summer squash and zucchini, but I knew I had more stops so the corn would have to do.
Off to the next stop R. Wilkin's Farm. The outside is loaded with plants and herbs to buy and I noticed the sign as I walked in that sad florist and the inside looks like just that, an old florist shop. I am guessing that they grew over time from a florist to a garden center and as an afterthought added some produce. They had a few local cherries and strawberries and local grown hothouse tomatoes, but everything else was bought from a produce wholesaler.
Coming into Groton I stopped to take a picture of this house. I'd love to know the history behind the house. I love the imposing gates and the stone walls all locally found I'm sure. Since it is in the town center and the center is pretty old I am guessing the house is old as well. If anyone knows the story behind the house drop me a line.
My next stop was Spring Brook Farm. A combination garden center and farm store they also raise and sell their own beef.
I hopped out of the car and wandered over to visit the cows.
Very curious about this crazy lady with the camera they wandered over and eyed me suspiciously. I did get one nose rub in though for good measure. The store is small and quaint with a freezer case full of their own meats and some local cheeses and half gallons and pints of their own milk. They had local peas, so I filled up a bag and they had early zucchini. The corn said it was from Connecticut but the hothouse grown tomatoes here smelled right so I picked up a few. A jar of their rhubarb jam leapt into my hands and an interesting barbecue sauce. I've been craving barbecued chicken for awhile now so I'll report back on how it is later. The sauce is Kansas city style if any one cares to know. Across the street from Spring Brook is yet ANOTHER farm stand, but I will save that one for another day.
Out the lot and left again I would my way to Springdell Farm the last stop on my trip today. It wasn't the produce I was after here, but they have grass fed beef and they carry local farm raised pork products and I was looking for some country style ribs for my SD's retirement party next weekend. Sadly they were out of pork, but I spied a little sign next to some half pints of cherries. The sign said they came from one of their uncle's cherry trees and I couldn't resist. I'd show you a picture, but they didn't last the ride home on the passenger seat. I left a trail of cherry stems from Littleton to Newton.
All this and more on Route 119 and I didn't even get to tell you about the ice cream stands, The Herb Lyceum, Meat market, small shops and antique shops I passed on my journey. This road is going to be getting a lot of time over the summer and I can't wait to drive it in the fall!