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Verrill Farm: send us your memories

Posted September 21, 2008 06:37 AM

Verrill Farm, which burned to the ground in a fire Saturday, was opened in 1918 by Stephen Verrill's father, Floyd, and grew into a key part of the state's agricultural community, a seminal piece of Concord's history and economy. In 1990, the farm ended its dairy operation and expanded its produce and retail business.

"It's very important," said Greg Howes, chairman of the Concord Board of Selectmen, in a telephone interview. "Our farms and agriculture are part of the history of the community."

According to the farm's website, it consists of about 200 acres in Concord and Sudbury, half farmland and half wildlife habitat, woodlands, and wetlands.

"Our Mission,'' says the website, is "To nourish the body and soul of our customers by providing healthful food of superb flavor in surroundings of beauty. Through the use of sound and efficient farming practices, we strive to maintain our land and animals in good health, and provide a good living for our employees and a reasonable return to the owners.''

What are your memories of this local institution?

28 comments so far...
  1. The best strawberry rhubarb pies ever, amazing scones, fresh produce...in short, a place where the best of ever season was celebrated. A winter visit was truly a reminder of the promise of Spring. Verrill Farm is one of the best things about living in this area - it must come back and I'll readily volunteer to make that happen!

    Posted by Christe Andrews September 21, 08 10:59 AM
  1. Some good stuff. Sad, of course, but so expensive I could barely afford an ear of corn there.

    Posted by LittleEthel September 21, 08 11:15 AM
  1. "The Farm" is one of our weekend destinations, where you can experience Big Sky country looking across the fields. Our loss, and employees' jobs, too. I can picture a quick re-opening under tents for the rest of this season.

    Posted by Kurt September 21, 08 11:20 AM
  1. We are new neighbors to Verrill Farm down the street at North Gate Farm. We were getting ready for our Sunday Horse Show when we saw smoke billowing over the trees. We so were concerned that the horses at the farm were in danger that we drove up to see what was going on and if we could be of help. I was shocked to see the store engulfed in flames and choked with tears that the store that we have grown to love was in such peril. I am so saddened for the Verrills at this awful loss. I hope they will rebuild and hope they know that their neighbors are wishing them the best at this time.

    Posted by Pam Lupo September 21, 08 11:22 AM
  1. As a young girl my mom took me to Verrill Farm to indulge my love of horses. I learned to horseback ride there from the same woman who taught my mother to ride when she was young, and spent countless hours around the farm growing to love the place as though it were my own. I grew up, went off to college in Vermont, joined the equestrian team and later ran into my old teacher at a show, marveling at the small world-ness of it all.

    I have since graduated, moved back to Boston, and last year got engaged. My three sisters immediatedly started planning a bridal shower and already knew the perfect place. On a chilly Sunday this past May, I arrived at Verrill Farm to find friends and family gathered in a tent at the edge of the fields. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by so many loved-ones looking out over a piece of land that truly shaped who I am today. From the seven-year-old who just knew she liked ponies, to the thirteen-year-old who was learning the benefits of dedication and persistence, to the thirty-one-year-old who stood at edge of a new phase of life and was filled with gratitude at how the lessons learned at Verrill Farm had rewarded her over the years. It's amazing that a single place can mean so much.

    After learning of the fire yesterday, my heart just broke - as a high-schooler my family's home burned and the sense of loss is visceral. However, if ever there was a place that knows being thrown once doesn't mean you are out for good, it's Verrill Farm. It's a lesson I, and no doubt others, learned while there. My thoughts and prayers are with you, and hope you seek solace in the greater Verrill family that stretches far and wide before you and will no doubt rise to shepherd you through this difficult time.

    Posted by Kate S. September 21, 08 11:52 AM
  1. Last Saturday we had my daughter's 4th birthday party at Verrill Farms. We had about 50 people there for a fabulous party--Verrill Farms BBQ, a hayride with Mr. Verrill, and pony rides. It was a beautiful afternoon in the tent, and everyone had a great time enjoying the wonderful food and the lovely setting. We had a such a great time for her 3rd birthday party, we did it again next year.

    I've been raving to my friends for years about the produce from Verrill farms (the tomatoes are so good, I didn't even grow any this year!) and the great food from the kitchen. I must go there 3 times a week on my way home from work. I think of Kevin as my personal chef.
    I was devastated to hear the farmstand burned down. I hope that you all will rebuild--I will be waiting, and hopefully we can have a party there next September!

    Posted by Teresa W. September 21, 08 12:58 PM
  1. So sad, so sad! Verrill holds a special place in our hearts as we near our first wedding anniversary. Memories of a bright, beautiful fall afternoon in September and working with such a wonderful staff to make our special day perfect!
    Also, as a chef, I hope to do what I can to help you continue with your season.
    It will not take long for the community to come together and do whatever it takes to help you get back on your feet!!

    Posted by Barry M. September 21, 08 01:06 PM
  1. My favorite memory was from one of my annual strawberry picking expeditions. I was 9 months pregnant with my son. I arrived at the farm with my then five year old daughter. I realized that the strawberry plants were very far away from my hand over my rather bulging belly. So I sat in the field and my daughter ran around and picked the berries. We completed the trip with a stop at the farm stand so we would have enough for the strawberry jam I was planning to make. My son was born a week later and we enjoyed the jam on homemade bread that I had bought that day in celebration.

    Posted by Beth C September 21, 08 03:13 PM
  1. We moved to Concord 4 years ago and Verrill quickly became a favorite place to shop. When my boys were in Elementary school I would drop them off at 9 and head straight to Verrill for coffee and whatever I needed to complete our dinner for that evening. We ordered food from them numerous times for parties and their scones and pies got rave reviews whenever we served them. I can't imagine a Thanksgiving without Verrills sides and pies....
    But what makes Verrill the best is the employees and owners, always a friendly 'hello' that led into conversations that always left me with a smile. I will certainly miss the crew at the deli counter and it doesn't surprise me that they worked hard to put the fire out, they are the best. I'll see you when you reopen!

    Posted by Lori Bromberg September 21, 08 03:50 PM
  1. We are so saddened by the loss of this invaluable part of the Concord community.
    Our thoughts are with the Verrill family.

    Posted by Janet and Stephen September 21, 08 04:00 PM
  1. The best memories I have of Verrill Farm are watching my little cousins (the daughters of Jen Verrill) grow up there and "run" the farm. Verrill Farm is where they spend all their time, it is an extension of their home. When the fire broke out, the kids were being my flower girls at my wedding. Jen also made my wedding cake at the Farm the day before which was unbelieveable. I know that they will rebuild and Verrill farm will be great again, it is just so sad that this happened.
    I also will look forward to the Festivals again when the farm is back up and running. They are so nice to go to and relax and eat such good food and spend time with the family.

    Posted by Krista September 21, 08 06:41 PM
  1. We are a Sudbury Family. My sons are away at jobs and fininishing college.
    Each year, we get our fresh turkey, all the fixings and pies from Verrill.
    My boys put in orders from college. I was sad when I sent them the photos of the destroyed farm. It was such a homey and comfortable place.
    We look forward to their returning to metrowest. I am just glad that everyone was able to get out of the building.

    Posted by Gina September 21, 08 07:17 PM
  1. Two years ago, when we moved to Maynard, our new neighbors brought us an insanely delicious pie as a housewarming gift. Of course, it was from Verrill Farm. We've been regulars since. Corn, tomatoes, pies, breads, a quick dinner on the way home. Everything's delicious, and it feels good to patronize a true family farm. Reading about the fire is just a devastating body blow to the whole area. We extend our best wishes to the entire Verrill family. We share in your shock and grief, and look forward to the rebuilding process. When you return, we'll be there, ready to welcome you back!

    Posted by David Greene September 21, 08 08:34 PM
  1. Thankfully everyone is safe. I am sure if we could find a kitchen somewhere the community could continue to keep the Verrill staff busy. For four years my family agreed that the best part of getting our mother into assisted living in West COncord was the trip by Verrill farms. Either we brought surprises to mom or we picked up dinner on the way home. When our mother died last year it was food from Verrills that fed our guests. I am sure I am not the only one wondering how to get through thanksgiving. This was the year I was hoping to skip the turkey and let everyone eat berry pies form Verrill farms. I hope there is a way to bring the farm stand back. It is truly one of the highlights of living in this area.

    Posted by L iz W September 21, 08 11:15 PM
  1. For several years, Verrill Farm has hosted various Massbike fundraisers, events, celebrations. I have led bike rides from Arlington all the way to Concord and back to join in with the fun. Wonderful memories of cycling on lovely summer days, feasting, corn and watermelons (and, of course, tomatoes), greeting friends, and leading the folks back to the inner suburbs.

    The Verrills always seem generous with their support of the community and sharing their bounty of land in many ways. I hope that they are able to recover from this great and tragic loss and rebuild their wonderful business.

    Posted by Kate Adams September 21, 08 11:28 PM
  1. I grew up down the road from Verrill Farm, on Seven Star Lane, and always loved going there to horseback ride and get fresh baked scones. I remember one summer, my mother took my sister and I on a walk by the cornfields. We ran through the rows pretending to be native americans, loving the way it felt to hide in the enormous grass, and for a little while time stopped. Verrill Farm never stopped making me feel like that, like I could pause my life and just enjoy.

    Posted by Eliza Gomez September 22, 08 12:56 AM
  1. To the Verrill Family,

    Words are of little help at a time like this, but Steve and I want to
    express to you all our sadness on the fire at the Farm Stand.

    Everyone is hoping that you will rebuild this great place in
    Concord.
    Fran and Steve Honan

    Posted by Frances Honan September 22, 08 08:21 AM
  1. My husband and I moved to Maynard 9 years ago and quickly discovered the gem of Verrill Farm. I look forward to the their corn every year, and stop their at least weekly for vegetables even in the winter.
    We were driving into Boston Saturday around 6 PM and saw the flames. It was devastating.
    I truly feel as if a family member has been killed.

    I hope they're able to recover and rebuild.

    Posted by Elizabeth Scott-Fox September 22, 08 09:26 AM
  1. I always felt that my week was never complete (or off to a better start) than with a Verrill Farm scone, cup of coffee, and a warm greeting from Colleen at the register on Sunday. It was always nice to chat with Steve and his wife on those mornings and hear about the changes to the farm over the years. This was our family's weekly ritual for the past 10 years, when we moved to the area. We only ever missed our outings due to vacations or holidays, so it came as quite a shock to discover the tragedy yesterday. I hope the community and local restaurants will organize a fund raiser to to help the Verrills rebuild as soon as possible, and we'll be sure to be there.

    Posted by Kristin Crosby September 22, 08 02:31 PM
  1. I am sad that I do not often get to visit the Verrill Farm but the memories that I have I will always cherish. My father practically grew up at the farm he also lived on Seven Star Lane and his grandfather was Floyd. I love hearing all the wonderful memories that he has to share. I was there in May of 2007 for the memorial of my grandfather, Ernie Verrill and my whole family spent some time at the farm and we all enjoyed it.

    Posted by Sammy Verrill September 22, 08 04:23 PM
  1. Me and my son of 5 y.o. know Verill farm only one year.
    We love going there. It is near our school.
    We would like to volonteer to rebuilt it if they need our help.

    Posted by Elena September 22, 08 09:05 PM

  1. I awoke Sunday morning to the news and had tears in my eyes. Verrill Farm is such a special place.. I have known them for almost 10 yrs ....the tomatoes, the strawberries , the pies ! all the best !
    I hope they can and do rebuild.
    The owners Joan and Steve, with the help of their manager barbara run a truly first class business, everything is high quality, the staff are friendly, what a loss to the community
    PLEASE RE BUILD !!! I too will volunteer to help
    DonnaKleinman

    Posted by Donna Kleinman September 22, 08 09:37 PM
  1. Oh, Little Ethel...if you only knew what a steal a Verrill ear of corn is......the sweetest , cleanest, corn.....priceless. The best part of the farm for me....the wonderful staff. The people who work the farm are genuine and kind. Going to the farm is like coming home. By all accounts it still is!

    Posted by Jen L. September 23, 08 05:27 PM
  1. My best memory is what i have seen the past few days at Verrill Farms.The out pouring of compassion and the endless donations that are coming in daily are truly a sight to behold. From pods to trailors for office space to food and coffee even construcion equipment, it's been wonderful The employees giving everything they have to help out and set up an area for sale of the produce. The fire may have burnt the building but not the spirit of the Verrill Family and it's employees and of course it's loyal customers. We will be back, I know it. I am an employee of Verrill Farms, I'm a baker, I am one of the people that make your baked goods, part of a fantastic team. We hope to be baking tomorrow, downscaled a bit, but it is nice to know we are already thinking about moving ahead. So come to Verrill Farms, we are still here!!! Thanx for the support and Thank you Steve, Joan and Jen for everything you do.

    DRB

    Posted by Darrin September 23, 08 07:38 PM
  1. To All Friends and Patrons of Verrill Farm:

    The following email from my husband, Guy Crosby, to Ilene Bezahler, Editor of Edible Boston, and her reply, gives hope and much needed info to all the friends of Verrill Farm. Good news! Great advice! The best thing we can all do to help get them back on their feet is to continue to buy from Verrill Farm at their temporary stand. And, yes, we can even donate to a special fund!

    Hi Ilene,

    I am sure you have heard about the tragic fire that destroyed Verrill Farm on Saturday evening. My wife, Christine, and I have been loyal patrons of Verrill Farm for eleven years. We believe there may be many customers who would like to help Steve, Joan, and Jennifer in their time of need. In your position as editor of edible Boston, you may be in the best position to promote and organize a grass-roots effort to help the Verrill family rebuild their business. Christine and I are willing to donate time and money to help in this cause, and are convinced many others will do the same, if there is a "point person" to take the lead.

    Hi Guy,

    Thank you for your email. I received a call right after the fire started and
    have been following the developments since Saturday night.

    It indeed was tragic but the Verrills have not let it stop them. On Monday,
    the farm was able to make its regular produce deliveries to restaurants
    in Boston. The farm has set up a make shift farm stand and is selling
    pumpkins and produce. Steve are Joan and already figuring out how
    to rebuild.

    Today there are a few things that we all can do. First, remember they still
    have produce in the fields that needs to be harvested. Make the trip to the
    farm and keep buying from them. In addition, if one wants to give a monetary
    donation, a fund has been set up for donations:

    Verrill Farmstand Fund
    Middlesex Savings Bank
    Concord, MA 01742

    Again, as you know, we need to remind everyone to continue with
    the support, whether through donations or by stopping in and
    making a purchase at the make shift store.

    Regards,
    Ilene

    Posted by Christine Crosby September 24, 08 04:26 PM
  1. While I stop in several times a year for pies when in Concord, my memories of the farm go back sixty years. I was born on the farm. We moved away when I was four. !

    One of my fondest memories is of my Grandfather (Floyd) hanging on to his Guernseys as long as he could. Each visit their number decreased until in the end there was just one. Grandpa would walk out into the pasture (all food producing land now) and help her up and back to the barn. The day came when she too was gone and there were no more Guernseys.

    I have watched the farm evolve over the decades and give my Aunt & Uncle a great deal of credit for evolving with the times and turning the farm into what it is today.

    It is nice to know that while it no longer provides the milk for area people, it is providing locally raised food in a time when that is how we all need to be feeding ourselves.

    I look forward to seeing a rapid rebuild and hope that the delicious assortment of pies will be available on my next trip to Concord!

    Posted by James Trundy Verrill September 25, 08 02:17 PM
  1. WE NEED PIE

    Posted by THE TALBOT FAMILY October 21, 08 12:53 PM
  1. Verrill farm was a wonderful drive out to the country, over the bridge and to the farm at four corners...to stop and spend a long hour there, sooking up the atmosphere and checking out local produce...say Hi To Jen and Guida....say hi to Every one in the kitchen...admiring the fully stocked cold chests for something to take home, checkout the new cookbooks, see what is in the green house...
    Look at the flowers, be there for the wonderful thick asparagras, hope for farm fresh eggs to poach, tell my friends and neighbors about Verrill FArm, listen to STeve tell about the drainage in the fields, admire the country views, enjoy the concerts and special celebrations of spring, summer, fall and winter...What a place!! Also to recall that my grandfather Mason, plowed his fields with big horses and plow he walked behind..Concord fields have so much Stone!!And my grandmothers root celler and the stone crock for pickles, the jar with pickled eggs...They knew what good fresh food tasted like, the reason I was attradcted to becoming a chef, good tasteing food.Food was important and none was ever wated.


    Sally LaRhette

    Posted by Marigold LaRhette December 14, 08 02:32 PM
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