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The Magic of Brookdale Fruit Farm in Hollis, N.H.

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Brookdale Farm, Hollis NH
Brookdale Fruit Farm, Hollis NH. Photo credit: Bill Hebden http://www.hebden-media.com



I remember as a kid in the late 1960s when Brookdale Fruit Farm in Hollis, N.H., was  a little neighborhood roadside farm stand that despite its modest, humble presence seemed to go beyond what other similar businesses offered in this area. The fruit was beyond fresh, the staff was not, and my ongoing perception of all vegetables being yucky seemed to diminish when trying the Brookdale products. The clean air and quiet rural surroundings regulated and pacified my revved up cycle of cola, ice cream, Yodels, hyperactive Saturday morning cartoons and fast-paced electronic games — you know, like the electronic ping pong game with two blips of light going back and forth on a screen.

Interestingly enough, Brookdale never became a regular stop when visiting southern New Hampshire from our childhood home in Arlington, Mass., as the beautiful Silver Lake State Park and the likeable Shakey’s Pizza — then on the Daniel Webster Highway — created some truly fun summer vacation days. How could you go wrong with swimming in a lake, throwing the ball around at the grassy field, and then watching Laurel and Hardy movies and marveling at the player piano over a few slices?

The warm memories of Silver Lake and Shakey’s Pizza never went away, and neither did the desire, as an adult, to make Brookdale Fruit Farm more of a regular destination whenever visiting Hollis. Each ensuing visit to this beautiful southern New Hampshire town did indeed result in a stop at Brookdale but with concerned observations that the once small-sized business seemed to be getting bigger and bigger.

Could that have been a future problem — that is, expanding, losing quality, and compromising that personal, small business owner touch?

No, not at all, to this very day. Proving that sometimes the “good old days” can be improved upon, today’s Brookdale Fruit Farm is the “complete package” without losing its personality and special ambiance. Let’s face it, the place has been around since 1847 and I am sure that generations before me also expressed concerns about Brookdale “selling out.” Sure, the farm has greatly expanded, but with the overall experience much better. What we have today is a farm stand with a meaningfully greater selection, a plants and gardening section, apple and other seasonal fruit picking, and an ice cream stand.

Happily, too, the experience is as genuine and authentic as it was in the past. I have been to some other local farm stands that have expanded and the feeling is totally different at those places. Some of those farm stands now seemed contrived, pretentious, overpriced, over marketed and with some dispassionate employees that look like they would rather not be there. Brookdale, on the other hand, has a great staff, a happy feeling, fair pricing and a welcoming, old-fashioned aura. Even though Brookdale has joined the “green” environmental bandwagon by prioritizing clean water and air, healthy soil, sustainable forestry, improved habitat and open space, and a quality environment, they don’t flaunt it. We all want cleaner produce, food, environment, but don’t really appreciate those who have an elitist approach to the matter. I think that with Brookdale, they have improved the conditions by paying homage to what they were in the first place — a wholesome farm stand farm far removed from the Industrial Revolution and a faster paced world where convenience can often trump quality.

Photo of Brookdale Fruit Farm, Hollis, NH
Brookdale Fruit Farm, Hollis, N.H. (photo by Eric H.)

I personally love best the rustic but sweet smelling main farm stand with fruits and vegetables directly from the field, a large organic selection, cooking items, gifts, and New Hampshire made items. “Local” is the theme here with homemade pies, jams, jellies, cheeses, eggs, honey, grass fed beef and much more. I love equally the fall apple picking season and the ice cream stand that sells Annabelle’s — one of the best tasting ice cream products on the planet (and made in New Hampshire).

What I love most about Brookdale, however, is the setting. Just look at that photo at the top of this article. Don’t you just feel better about life looking at that scene? Wouldn’t you just love to be there right now? While Hollis has grown quite a bit since the 1970s, the town still retains a wonderful classic New England rural sense. It’s hard to fully explain, but things just seem so right when being in the presence of Brookdale’s lovely countryside.

May the current and future generations enjoy places like Brookdale Fruit Farm and any other types of appealing small businesses that deserve your business. In my heart, I became close friends with Brookdale even before fully getting to know the business — sort of like a love at first sight story that resonates eternally.

Brookdale Fruit Farm is located at 41 Broad St., Hollis NH. Tel. 603-465-2240. For more information on Brookdale, log onto http://www.brookdalefruitfarm.com

Editor’s note: Bill Hebden sure takes a great photo! I recommend you check out his Hebden Media web site at http://www.hebden-media.com

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