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41 Broad Street (Route 130), Hollis, NH
Brookdale Fruit Farm, Hollis, NH
Since the profile of the Brookdale Fruit Farm appeared in the book New Hampshire: From Farm to Kitchen (2004), and which spawned www.newhampshirefarms.net, much on the farm has changed, yet much remains the same with the Hardy and Whittemore families remaining in control.
A new generation of Hardys, Chip’s sons, Trevor and Tyler, often called the family’s “high-tech tier” have entered the scene to help manage the 165 year old farm headed by Eleanor Hardy’s 86 year-old husband, Frank Whittemore. Trevor works on the Irrigation and Row Crow Supplies catalog, developed by his uncle, Bruce Hardy, to supply New England small farms. “Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t stop in for a pump or a piece of pipe.” Trevor says. “Or just to ask for our advice.”
Chip’s son, Tyler, is learning the wholesale side of the business from his father. As has always been the way with the Whittemore and Hardy families, one family member teaches another the intricacies of the farming business. Chip Hardy had learned the wholesale business from his Uncle Frank who is the most senior member of the family and the one who today keeps a tight handle on the books. “Just as he did when my Grampa (Harold) Hardy was working the farm,” Joan Whittemore Marcum says proudly of her father, Harold’s son-in-law. Joan came on-board to help update the farm’s accounting systems.
The Brookdale farm seems to spawn businesses. Their wholesale business continues to flourish with the demand for locally-grown produce. Chip Hardy’s photograph hangs in New Hampshire Hannaford’s stores as a visual reminder of the company’s commitment to local farmers. And Hannaford represents only one of Brookdale’s wholesale customers, large (including Market Basket) and small (farm stands in New Hampshire and Massachusetts).
With Elwin (Spud) Hardy’s oldest son, Rick, in charge, Brookdale’s farmstand has been a retail fixture on Route 130 for years. Inside, the post and beam stand, once only for the sale of produce and begun in Rick’s parents’ garage in the mid-1900s, now includes gifts and locally produced items from pies to grass fed beef. Outside the store “Spud’s Ice Cream Stand selling Annabelle’s Ice Cream” with several picnic tables nearby provide a nice spot to sample purchases. Animals and chickens, unlike those used for food when Brookdale was a subsistence farm back in 1847, now entertain children in a petting zoo. In the fall, a corn maze and hayrides also please the crowds.
Introducing the farm to organic gardening is another one of Rick’s endeavors along with his son, Trevor. “We can’t do much right now”, Trevor explains “because most of our land is not suitable for “organics” since it’s been farmed with non-organic fertilizers for some generations.” In the couple of fields where organic growing is possible, are devoted to growing heirloom potatoes, some lettuce, and cucumbers.
Rick son, Cameron, handles Brookdale’s extensive website that covers their farm supplies catalogue, up-dates on pick-your-own fruit events, the ice cream stand and wholesale and retail store activities.
The amount of Brookdale’s farm land necessary to keep up with market demand has grown to include fields acquired or leased from now defunct family farms, such as the Gagnon dairy on route 130 and Woodmont Orchards (formerly the Lievens property) on route 122. Except for the family farmhouse , where Frank and wife Eleanor have lived since their marriage in the early 1940’s, most of the acreage is in conservation easement with the State of New Hampshire owning the building permits.
And as for overseeing the management of all the farm’s enterprises, it will be some time before the next generation will be able to wrest them from Frank Whittemore. “He’s always coming off one tractor or getting on another,” his wife Eleanor says from the Brookdale office across Hollis’ Route 130 from the farmstand. “His hand is in everything done here. He sometimes forgets he doesn’t control me, too!”
Brookdale Fruit Farm
38 Broad St
PO Box 389
Hollis, NH 03049
Brookdale Fruit Farmstand
41 Broad St
Hollis, NH 03049
Retail: (Direct to customer sales)
Pick Your Own
Wholesale: (bulk sales to markets,restaurants, & stores)
Farm stands in NH and MA
Author of this article, Patricia Neary-Hayward, lives in Florida but writes about her native state of New Hampshire when she visits. She has a bachelor’s degree in literature and creative writing from Eckerd College, and has written for the Bradenton Herald. Her interest in farming comes from stories told to her by an aunt, Marilyn Lund, of life on her parents’ farm in Hollis, New Hampshire during the Depression.
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