It’s hard not to have a good time on a farm on a sunny August day, but even so, we’ve got to give credit to Cider Hill Farm owners Glenn and Karen Cook—they do it right. From the counterstaff who cheerfully directed us to the pick-your-own peaches to the signs that politely asked us to respect the orchards (rather than scolding us for even thinking of sampling the fruit) to the large, sunny store containing tons of locally-sourced products, Cider Hill is a delight for food lovers.
The place to start your visit to Cider Hill is on the website, where you’ll find a detailed update on what produce is available in the store and to pick on your own. The day we were there, the peach orchards had just opened, and blueberry picking was in progress. Most of the peaches felt quite firm on the trees, but they softened to perfection almost immediately on our countertops. On the way to the orchard, we passed the Cook’s bee-keeping operation just off the main path as well as some of the farm’s gorgeous apple orchards.
After picking as much fruit as we could carry and admiring the view from the top of the hill (vegetable fields, orchards, and far-off wind turbines), we ogled the goodies in the store, including a huge selection of Stonewall Kitchen products, an entire wall of farm-made jams and fruit spreads, and a great selection of gourmet pasta and soup/dip mixes.
We noted many locally made food items such as mini-whoopies from Newburyport’s Chococoa, ice cream from Amesbury’s Hodgie’s, Gloucester’s Boston Chowda lobster bisque, Portsmouth’s Me & Ollie’s bread, granola from Marblehead (Chappaqua Crunch) and Boxford (Boxford Bakehouse), and soynut butter from Simple Food in Amesbury.
Fresh foods include produce from the farm (we bought delicious strawberries from their late-producing crop and incredible butter-and-sugar corn), meat from Butcher’s Gourmet, and a variety of pastries. Our favorite is cider donuts, which are made fresh daily (expect to wait in line during apple-picking season if you want hot ones—but they’re worth it).
Bags of donuts are available to bring home, as are frozen pies made on the farm and honey from the aforementioned bees. An enclosed hive gives a unique look at the daily lives of bees, delighting the less-squeamish among us. More kid-friendly are the outside pens with sheep, goats, and gorgeous red hens (you can buy their eggs in the store, of course). Many folks never think of visiting a farm until autumn, but Cider Hill is open May 5th through November 26th so there’s no need to wait for the fall enjoy the farm. And those delectable peaches are definitely worth the trip!
Cider Hill Farm
45 Fern Ave, Amesbury