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Home » Farm Women

Daryl Grasso: Abbey Farm, Woodsville, NH

By Helen Brody (January 6, 2009)

Daryl Grasso, Abbey FarmAn old dairy farm, a lot of heart, and the Beatles all come together when you take the dirt road up the hill to Abbey Farm in the North Country.

Daryl Grasso, a former executive assistant, after hearing of land for sale in Woodsville, trekked up the hill with her life partner Harold Brown to view the snow covered site and fell in love with it.

Needing an exact address in place before she could insure her future farm, a neighbor who was a devout Beatle fan neighbor, suggested Abbey Road. As one partial to the Beatles herself, and appreciating a good directory placement, Abbey Farm was born.

The first two years were more of a history lesson than that of her planting three acres of beans, squash, tomatoes and pumpkins. She learned that the Ice Age left little behind in New Hampshire but rocks and that the soil needed serious amending. Harold was charged with the details of fertilizing and tilling.

Recognizing the importance of distinguishing her produce from the “norm,” she chose quality varieties of produce. Pencil straight beans have become the favorite of local customers wanting to put up perfect jars of New England’s traditional Dilly Beans. Seeing customers return the second year was a source of genuine satisfaction so she was encouraged to plant more acreage and Harold built a greenhouse.

In 2003 sales were off. It was not only a wet picking season, but the farm hit another stone wall, of sorts. The Grafton County Prison had opened a prison farm stand just down the road. They were utilizing free inmate labor to grow and sell produce at reduced rates to the public and were undercutting the prices charged by small farmers. “Honestly,” she says, “I’m sympathetic of the need to keep the prisoners occupied, but the county should not pursue a business venture that interferes with, or directly hurts small local businesses.” It was a tough year, but she persevered.

Since then, the farm has more than quadrupled in growing area. She and Harold purchased property and built a farm stand on busy Route 302 (Central Street) in downtown Woodsville. Produce is brought directly from the farm daily, and Daryl juggles her time there as well as at area farmers’ markets.

With winter markets on the rise, she plans to begin planting more storage crops which will be a welcome addition to her popular jams, jellies, and other farm produced edibles available during the cold months.

“Sometimes I’ll drag my feet, or feel I am running in too many directions at once, but then I notice a Tom turkey in the field fanned out for his hens and I I‘ll enjoy nature for a moment. It’s like a shot in the arm.” Then she thanks the powers that be for all that she has, and smiles because “No matter what happens, or how the day goes, I can always find balance at the farm.”

Abbey Farm
172 Central Street
Woodsville, NH
(603) 747-2786

Point of sale: Farm stand on Rte 302 (Central St.), Woodsville

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