Flavor at Your Fingertips

  • David Ginisi

The pink and white blossoms dotting the region’s hillsides in May offer a tantalizing hint of the pleasures to come.


Women picking ripe blueberries close up shoot

This is Johnny Appleseed’s backyard — the birthplace of that national legend — and apple orchards abound here, inviting visitors to taste dozens of tasty varieties as summer turns into fall. But you don’t have to wait to celebrate the flavorful bounty of North Central Massachusetts!

Join the Friends of Sholan Farms in mid-May for their Apple Blossom Festival, held high on a hill overlooking Leominster. Sholan Farms, a volunteer-run property, is the last working orchard in Johnny’s hometown, so there’s good reason to celebrate the start of apple season.

The opening of those delicate blossoms, of course, is just a hint of what’s to come…and foretells the arrival of just one of the fabulous flavors to be found on local farms.

As the region shakes off winter chills and warms up in the sunny days of spring and summer, a succession of mouth-watering fruits and vegetables begins to sprout forth: peas, asparagus, blueberries, raspberries, grapes…the list goes on and on.

And the good news is that you can head out into the fields and orchards, and pick your own. It just doesn’t come any fresher than that!


Fresh strawberries that are grown in greenhouses

Here’s an opportunity to show the kids where the food they enjoy comes from. Plan a visit and get ready to fill a pail or basket with the flavors of New England.

No time to pick? No problem! Many local farms have shops or farmstands that will be filled with just-from-the-field fruits and veggies, ready for you to grab-and-go as you head to the kitchen to prepare a healthy meal.


Don’t know where to start? Here’s a sampling of pick-your-own farms and farmstands in North Central Massachusetts:

Bolton Orchards
125 Still River Road, Bolton
Farm store with local apples available year-found, market fresh fruits and vegetables, just-pressed cider, fruit baskets and more. Open daily year round.

Carlson Orchards
15 Oak Hill Road, Harvard
Pick your own blueberries, raspberries, sweet cherries and peaches, as they ripen. And don’t forget the 20 varieties of apples!  Check their Facebook page daily to see what’s available, and stop by the farm stand for everything from hard cider to farm-fresh eggs.

Clear View Farm
4 Kendall Hill Road, Sterling
Pick your own strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, pumpkins, and a well-stocked farmstand with cider, baked goods, syrup and more.

Hollis Hills Farm
340 Marshall Road, Fitchburg
Love peaches? The Hollis Hills Farm orchard is filled with the sweet treats from mid-July through August. The pick-your-own season starts in June with a half-dozen varieties of strawberries, and continues into fall. Take the time to savor lunch or refreshing ice cream cone, or pick a bouquet of sunflowers and dahlias to take the beauty of the great outdoors home with you.

Lanni Orchards
294 Chase Road, Lunenburg
This family farm will keep you coming back all summer for strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, seedless grapes, nectarines, plums, pears, apples, Concord grapes…and don’t forget the pumpkins in autumn!

Odd Pine Farm-Upick
Blueberry Farm
122 Ferin Road, Ashburnham
Five acres of blueberries — four different varieties — with designated areas marked for picking each day. Bring your own containers. Open Thursday & Friday 6-6, Saturday 6-4, Sunday 6-1, subject to weather conditions; it’s a good idea to check their website to confirm current hours.

Red Apple Farm
455 Highland Avenue, Philllipston
The blueberries and raspberries are bountiful in July — and sunflowers will be ready for picking by early August. And don’t forget the apples: More than 50 varieties, available to pick from July through October! Need a little refreshment? Here’s a tip to entice the kids: The ice cream window is open, too.

Sholan Farms
1125 Pleasant Street, Leominster
U-Pick Blueberries, raspberries, apples and more will tempt you here — along with the great view overlooking the city! This volunteer-run orchard usually holds special events throughout the season, too. Can’t get to the farm? Sholan also attends the Fitchburg Farmers Markets on Thursday and the Westminster Farmers Markets on Fridays.  §