Boston Globe, 3/28/2004
The parking lot was nearly empty, and there were just a handful of workers pruning trees at Honey Pot Hill Orchards last week. But by Labor Day, hundreds of cars will be jockeying for parking spots, and nearly four dozen farm workers will be harvesting acres of apples, peaches, and pears.It's an annual ritual that Richard Martin, 80, has spent his life doing since his father, Clifford, bought the farm in 1923. Today, the 200-acre orchard is one of Stow's biggest attractions, luring families to pick apples, take hayrides, visit farm animals, and enjoy homemade donuts and apple cider. Honey Pot is one of a handful of family-owned farms in Stow. Shelburne Farm, on West Acton Road, offers peaches, pumpkins, and more than 20 varieties of apples. Carver Hill Orchards is on Brookside Avenue, not far from the town center off Route 62. Apple growers say they are able to defy the odds and keep their farms operating because they sell directly to the public, without a middleman. They say that wholesale apple prices have been unchanged since the 1980s, making such a business profitable only for giant companies. Direct sales to the public have kept these farms growing, they add. While the number of Massachusetts farms has dwindled over the years -- many have become housing subdivisions -- Martin said his family has no intention of selling its valuable land to developers. "We don't get many calls about selling because the message is out there we're not interested," he said. "We love what we do, and hopefully we'll be around for another 100 years." Unlike many other communities in Eastern Massachusetts that have experienced rapid growth, Stow continues to maintain its rural essence. Still, the town is seeing an influx of new residents seeking the comfort of a country town with top-notch schools. As a result, resales and new construction have driven up home prices. In the last decade, the median price of a single-family home has jumped 156 percent to $511,500, up from $200,000. Of the 31 single-family homes listed last week on MLS Property Information Network Inc., eight were available for under $400,000. The rest were priced from $405,000 for a three-bedroom contemporary on Gleasondale Road to $2.4 million for a five-bedroom Colonial on Walcott Street. Golf enthusiasts flock to Stow Acres Country Club, a public facility that was once a 19th century estate. The club, on Randall Road, features a pair of 18-hole golf courses anchored by a renovated antique Victorian clubhouse. Once a summer resort community, the area around Lake Boone has become a year-round neighborhood. Activities include fishing, boating, water skiing, swimming, and ice skating. A boat launch is located on Sudbury Road across from the Marlborough-Sudbury State Forest, near State Road. THOMAS GRILLO
* 33 Birch Hill Rd. One-family Colonial, built 1981, 3,631 sq. ft, 11 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 45,302 sq ft lot. $692,000.
* 12 Seven Star Lane One-family garrison, built 1974, 2,232 Sq. Ft., 8 rooms, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bath, 40,511 sq. ft. lot. $445,000.
* 122 Harvard Rd. One-family ranch, built 1967, 1,092 Sq. Ft., 8 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath, 46,609 sq. ft. lot. $324,000.
* 34 Meeting House Lane. Unit 207 Condominium, built 2002, 1,384 Sq. Ft, 4 rooms, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths. $321,906.[an error occurred while processing this directive]