By Nancy Brumback, Contributing Writer
Business name: Sholan Farms
Address: 1124 Pleasant St., Leominster
Farm Manager: Mike Meehan
Contact Information: 978-840-3276 www.sholanfarms.com
What is Sholan Farms?
“Sholan Farms is a property of around 167 acres – 28 acres of fruit trees, and an additional 30 acres or so of blueberries, pumpkins, raspberries, summer vegetables, community gardens and hay. The rest is woodland and trails and a 40-acre meadow out back that we maintain as a habitat for nesting birds,” said Mike Meehan, manager of the farm, operated by the nonprofit Friends of Sholan Farms.
“The grounds are always open, even when the farmstand is not. Many people just come up and bring the dog or the kids and hike the trails or walk around the orchard.”
Sholan Farms dates back either to 1642 when Sholan, a chief of the Nashaway tribe, deeded the land to two English settlers or to 1701 when a land grant was purchased from Chief Sholan to form the town of Leominster; the records are unclear.
When are you open for apple picking?
“In the fall, we'se open seven days a week, usually from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. but you can check exact hours on our website,” Meehan said. “You just pay for what you pick. You buy a bag and you fill your bag. We'sl also have pumpkins, winter squash, gourds and a variety of vegetables for sale at our farmstand.
“This year we opened on July 1 for limited hours for raspberry picking and to sell the vegetables we have started growing. We also have pick-your-own blueberries in season.”
How many varieties of apples do you have?
“Thirty-seven, from the Jersey macs to Baldwins for a long season, into November. Some people come up every week to try what's ready that week,” he said. The website, www.sholanfarms.com, lists the varieties, when they ripen and the best uses for each.
“There's a huge difference in the taste of fresh apples. People don's realize that when they buy an apple in a store in July, that apple was picked 10 months ago. There's nothing in the world like an apple right off the tree.”
Are there winter activities?
“The farmstand business shuts down after Thanksgiving, but there are plenty of activities such as hiking or snow-shoeing or cross country skiing. The trails are open, and we plow the parking lots every day. I's here all year round, Monday through Friday. ”
And you have volunteer opportunities?
“I's the only year-round employee. Sher Thao, the assistant farm manager, who also leases some of our land, comes in for about three months during the harvest, and we hire a few pickers. But we rely on volunteer activity.
“We have hundreds of volunteers and they do everything from painting picnic tables to weeding gardens to planting the crops. Every person who works in the farmstand during the season is a volunteer. Even during the winter, when it was 10 degrees and I was out there pruning, some guy walking his dog worked with me for an hour pulling brush out of the trees. If you'se interested, just contact me by phone or the website.”