By Debbie Curtin (December 14, 2015)
Hidden Acres Farm originated with Forrest Reynolds, Sr. and his wife, Abby Lois (Bartlett) Reynolds. They were drawn to the quaint New Hampshire town of Newton in 1939. The farm began with dairy cows on a 21-acre parcel of land of open meadows and forests of hardwood trees. Forrest Jr., attended the Essex Agricultural and Technical School in Danvers, Massachusetts. He graduated in 1941 with poultry as his main interest. Back in Newton, New Hampshire, he worked to continue to build the farm as a viable way of life by grazing horses, growing and baling hay, and cutting wood for timber.
In 1998, Bev and Ed Batchelder began their farming life when it became evident that Bev’s Uncle Forrest needed a helping hand caring for himself, the house, and the farm. They decided to move to Newton and Hidden Acres Farm. Keeping the property in the family was an important part of their decision. Ed admits to gaining and absorbing a lot of knowledge from Forrest Jr., who continued to drive his horse and carriage, giving neighborhood folks a ride well into his 80s. Today they look back at the decision to change gears with no regrets. This is their life.
The curve of the road brings you around and to the farm. There the tractors seem artfully situated near the driveway, the light shines through the barn door, the wrap-around porch greets you, and it all says “Welcome to Hidden Acres Farm.” The house, barn, and outer buildings retain the charm of a long-ago era. If the walls could talk, there would be many tales (and tails) of daily life on the farm.
The “hidden acres” of the farm is, in fact, a section down a sloping area behind the main barn that is still amazingly green even on a cool fall day. Potatoes are planted here in the spring. The area to the right of the house has several raised beds and parsley is still being picked. Their vegetables, zinnias and sunflowers have been most successful at their roadside stand and at the Plaistow Farmer’s Market over this past summer. Broccoli, beets, peppers, spinach, kale, cabbage, and many varieties of herbs are some of what was offered. The row of asparagus plants up on a knoll provided, hands down, the #1 most sought-after vegetable. The word is out!
In the distance is a farmer’s pride: the compost heap. The Batchelders have gladly taken in the horse dung and leaves from their neighbors. Over time it will become the foundation for another fine planting season.
Back at the house is the bright, sunny south-facing back porch where vegetable seedlings begin and thrive before planting in the spring. Tomatoes were in overabundance this year. Apples butter, peach preserves, and hot pepper jelly were key products that Bev put up.
The chicken population and their eggs are a key farm staple, with several dozen Rhode Island Reds milling about a covered, secure outdoor area, while a select cageful nearby are set to be dressed later in the day. They order their chicks from Mt. Healthy in Ohio. This year marks the Batchelders’ first venture into farm-raised turkeys and all were pre-sold for Thanksgiving.
The Batchelders continue to offer camp firewood and milled lumber. They gather, bale, and sell the mixed hay twice a season, in June and August for an approximate total of 400 bales.
With all that Bev and Ed do in keeping the farm going day to day, they both have their wish-list. Ed would love to see the blacksmith shop, original to the property, given a new life. It still has the charm and tools of bygone times. He envisions a small fenced-in area in front with several cows or sheep. Bev is a fan of their cider press and would love to see it become more than a hobby. The grandchildren would gladly say “yes!” to that day.
The land and historic structures of Hidden Acres Farm are permanently protected under the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, preserving their rural character for future generations.
HIDDEN ACRES FARM
Bev and Ed Batchelder
42 Thornell Road
Newton, NH 03858
Phone: (603) 421-4782
Retail: Seasonal farm stand and Plaistow Farmers Market.
As the growing season winds down and winter approaches Hidden Acres Farm will continue to have cordwood available for your indoor and outdoor fire needs. Contact or visit the farm when the early spring season gears up. Preorder your eggs, vegetables, chickens and more!
Debbie Curtin is an artist that uses a wide variety of styles and mediums in her work. Writing is another canvas she uses to craft a story and uses those words in an artful way to engage the reader. She welcomes this amazing writing opportunity in support of family farms. www.debbiecurtin.com