Green Acres – Haverhill’s Srybny Farms Earns “Haverhill’s Best” Awards
What it lacks in vowels, Srybny Farms more than makes up for in variety and fans. And that combination earned the farm stand and garden center two awards in the Haverhill Gazette’s “Haverhill’s Best” competition that will be announced tomorrow. (For specific details, check out the Haverhill Gazette.) Srybny Farms according to the Essex National Heritage Area website was first purchased by the Srybny family in 1917.The third and fourth generations are running the farm today, and they seem to have the concept just right.
The Heartbeat of Haverhill followed one of those intuitive moments and showed up at Srybny’s farm stand (712 Hilldale Ave, Haverhill 978.374.9270) today looking for tomatoes and anything else that might continue our summer trend of meatless meals. We stopped by the tomato section stymied by the choices – heirloom, or standard, grape, cherry or reduced acid, red, yellow, orange, or purple. Today we stuck with a less adventuresome tomato because we were making the oft requested tomato, raw corn, basil and olive oil salad, and one shouldn’t mess with something like that. Who knew there was a possibility to contemplate tomatoes for 15 minutes before choosing from the vast selection? It was a wonderfully pleasant 15 minutes.
From there we checked out the pepper varieties – hot, sweet, long, round, irregular, with shades upon shades of yellow, green, and red.
Despite the massive quantities and types of produce, Srybny does supplement its home grown with supplies from other farms. For example when we asked to see a watermelon field, we were told there wasn’t a watermelon patch on site because they simply don’t grow well in our region anymore. But all homegrown products are carefully labelled and the few supplementals (Portobello mushrooms, watermelon, avocado et al) are a small percentage of the total array. The variety Srybny grows is mesmerizing – on sale today 7 different eggplants, 8 different squash, THOH wanted to conduct a taste testing of each category but time prohibited it. It seems most farms focus on a few favorites, whereas Srybny loves the subtle nuances between different types of the same vegetable enough to want to share that experience with you.
Golden beets, red beets striped beets. Hard to beat the options!
Corn is perhaps the most sought after veggie, (did you know that it’s actually a grain?), with fierce debates on where the best can be found. Several customers touted the Butter and Sugar corn at Srybny’s as the best and they wait anxiously for it to come in like some people wait for the Beaujolais from France. Others like the Silver Queen corn. The growing cornstalks frame the farm stand on one side. Did you know that each tassel thread of corn silk represents one kernel?
Veggies are simply the beginning of the story – Srybny offers indoor and outdoor plants for gardens and landscaping. And helpful hints. THOH was sniffing a small lavender plant when approached by Helen a very, very good person to know if you have plant questions, She was so informative – the specific lavender I was sniffing was one that needed to come inside for the winter. She also said outside lavender needs to be pruned twice a year. Snip off the top third in fall and half in spring for a fuller, more blossomed plant. And if you have one of those topiary lavender plants – trim off anything that tries to grow on the trunk. There were all sorts of gorgeous flowers luring honeybees into the farm
This stunning blossom (hibiscus?) is dinner plate sized
First time THOH had seen a coleus planting pretty nearly the size of a Smart Car. Amazing
The saddest photo for summer-loving THOH – in preparation for fall, one field is full of that autumn staple – mums
But beyond the plants and veggies, the two things that stood out in our minds were that this was an authentic farm, the kind that harvests its own product by hand and seasonally employs kids who don’t mind getting their hands dirty. And that the team has a sincere appreciation, and superior knowledge of all things growing. They are both helpful and polite, while being matter of fact.
As THOH visited, one young worker brought in baskets of freshly picked tomatoes (don’t ask which kind, THOH hasn’t learned them all yet) while another filled a basket of pickling cucumbers. Imagine picking out veggies still warm from the afternoon sun. That is what ‘farm fresh’ is all about. Haverhill has so many farms and each has its unique qualities that make them outstanding. Srybny Farms is perhaps the farthest from The Heartbeat of Haverhill’s home, and yet we can say, it is definitely worth the trip. Congratulations, Srybny Farms, on your well-earned “Haverhill’s Best” awards, and thanks for giving THOH the scoop.
Basket of just picked cucumbers