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20 Orchard Way, Lee, NH 03861
DeMeritt Hill Farm, Lee, NH
In 1991, with the idea of future retirement, former educator Meg Wilson and her husband, Roy, began to search for a property in the southeast corner of New Hampshire that would fit the bill. “We bought DeMeritt Hill Farm the following year with the idea of retiring here in the future,” stated Meg. As it is with farming, retirement is on the back burner.
At the time the farm was in rather rough condition. During the five years that followed, the farm continued to deteriorate until the Wilsons made it their permanent home in 1997 and began active management. Today their beautiful property consists of 120 acres; 20 of those acres are home to 27 different varieties of apple trees, mostly dwarf and semi-dwarf. Roughly one hundred acres of woodland is managed with an active forest management plan.
Diversification is a key word in the vocabulary of the Wilson family, and diversify they have! Pick-your-own blueberries, apples, pumpkins, and occasionally peaches are available in season. Sweet breads, many featuring the farm’s own fruit, are baked right on the farm in a commercial kitchen. No matter the season, homemade apple cider donuts are always a favorite with the crowds.
Meg’s and Roy’s three sons and their families do not live on the farm but are very actively involved in the day-to-day operations, each in their own individual way. Family and education are very important, and this shows in the way the farm is run and the activities that are offered throughout the year.
From the fall “Haunted Overload” to Doggy Walk in partnership with the Cocheco Valley Humane Society, DeMeritt Hill Farm is continually abuzz with activity. In the spirit of diversification and education, one might find themselves a frequent visitor to the farm as it hosts a variety of community events throughout the year.
Haunted Overload is a favorite fall tradition. Voted #1 scariest haunted attraction in America in 2015 by Hauntworld.com and the winner of the 2014 ABC reality television show “The Great Halloween Fright Fight,” the haunt continues to grow and be improved by its creator on a yearly basis. Situated in the woods on the farm, many of the props, including a four-story Victorian mansion, are over 40 feet tall. The haunt is open for nine full nights, bringing over 15,000 people to the farm during that time in October. A portion of the proceeds are donated each year to the Cocheco Valley Humane Society.
Christmastime brings an entirely different flurry of activity to the farm. In 2015 the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire partnered with DeMeritt Hill to offer “Jingle Bell Express.” Families enjoyed a ride to the farm and were welcomed by Mrs. Clause into the farm’s School House (Education Center) where she read them a story before Santa arrived bringing gifts for each of the children. As Meg said on a recent farm visit, “It’s very much a family experience.”
Throughout the year, family weekends are scheduled featuring old-fashioned games and lots of good, clean fun. There are four trails, totaling over six miles, that feature signs with information regarding animal habitat and tree species on the farm as well. The trails are well groomed, making it easy for families to explore in a safe environment. Throughout the fall, they are used for Oyster River middle school cross-country races. Although she isn’t directly involved, Meg is very open to allowing people to explore different agricultural ventures on the farm, two of those being beekeeping and maple sugaring.
The original dairy barn has been beautifully renovated and is home to the world-champion Morgan horses of Bellewether Stables. The equestrian center has expanded, boarding dozens of horses with indoor and outdoor training facilities. The indoor riding arena addition to the barn was built in 2007 with pine that was harvested directly from the property.
Diversifying even more is always on the forefront of planning. During a recent visit, Meg, her son Ryan, and farm manager, Jon, chattered about different ideas for upcoming ventures. Jon, who dabbles with the maple syrup making on his own time, mentioned the possibility of expanding that area. Ryan mentioned maybe experimenting with craft ciders. Hearty kiwis have also been a topic of conversation as of late. Whatever the choice is, DeMeritt Hill Farm will always be a place where family and community are at the forefront of their decision making.
DeMeritt Hill Farm
Meg & Roy Wilson
20 Orchard Way
Phone: (603) 868-2111
Farmstand Hours: vary
Sarah Bundy grew up on a New Hampshire farm, the ninth generation in her family. She has traveled to every corner of the United States and several countries, and every time returning home with a greater appreciation for New Hampshire, especially the farm she calls home.
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