A very happy golden retriever named Abbey is the real boss here at Cheshire Garden - although she'd probably say that we could throw that ball a little bit more and maybe spend a little less time in the professional kitchen (which is off limits to her). She loves the gardens though, and spending time with us there whether we're planting, hoeing, weeding or picking (often wearing the colors of the fruits we're picking that day as she digs into the shade of the planting).
Ralph is a man of many talents - including master builder and recycler - who built everything here including our house, professional kitchen, solar electric system, greenhouse, sheds, and garden support structures. He didn't know what hit him when I joined him in 1986 and began planting.....
He also worked for six years as a cook and chef, and is responsible for creating Cheshire Garden's exquisite mustards. He learned about good food from his Italian grandmother, a wonderful cook who knew the importance of good, fresh ingredients, so that even as a young boy, he appreciated the flavor of fresh herbs and garlic. Now, food is his passion - both growing it and cooking it.
I was lucky that my mother grew beautiful gardens, and put up vegetables, such as tomatoes and relishes, in glass jars. The best of all, though, were the raspberries, whether freshly picked in the summer sun, or preserved to be spread on popovers and scones in the winter..
I always loved her gardens, and while in college I enjoyed lots of botany and plant science courses, including one on organic gardening which led to my first independent garden in 1974. Fascinated by insect-plant relations, I also spent more than a decade as a researcher in the department of Entomology at the University of Massachusetts studying the behavior of insects in the apple orchard ecosystem. I began farming in 1978 in Leyden, Massachusetts, and joined Ralph here in Winchester in 1986.
Together, we farm this hill and turn our harvest into our very special foods. Ralph carved long beds into the hillside and filled them with compost to richen the soil. I start the seeds in the greenhouse and plant out the seedlings. Since we grow everything organically, we manage all of our plantings very carefully. Raspberries are pruned, thinned, and cut back every year. Strawberries are mulched, covered, and uncovered as the season dictates. We carefully scout for insects and hand-pick them or provide barriers or traps as needed. With our raised beds and meticulous, tender care, plants flourish here.
We pick every fruit, vegetable and berry at its sun-ripened peak. Since we don't rely on markets for our fruit, they don't need to be shipped and we can wait until they are perfectly ripe and most full of flavor for picking. Herbs, too, are harvested at peak flavor on bright, sunny days.
We put the same care growing our food as we do in preserving it. We slowly simmer our preserves and sauces in kettles on the stove, in small batches of just a dozen jars or so. Mustards are mixed just eight jars at a time. All of our ingredients are organic, just like our produce.
For all these reasons, you'll never find our food in your supermarket, or even in big natural food stores. We are found in some of the finest hotels, specialty shops, bakeries and farm stores in New England. We try to offer something special - food made by hand, with love - for all our wonderful customers and friends.
P.S. We love Farmers' Markets, where people get a chance to taste
our wonderful foods, then become life-long customers. Here's
a listing of or markets and shows.
Send us e-mail or
call if you'd like more information on these.
A Carefully Chosen Few
We don't really seek to sell our products in stores -
since we're only putting up what we grow here, we don't really have a surplus
of anything. We make an exception for some very special people who either were
our friends to begin with, or have come to be friends after a long association.
If you see our products somewhere, you can be sure that they are fresh, and
that we have a close personal relationship with the proprietor.
- Henrietta's Table at The Charles Hotel - Cambridge, MA
- I know, it seems crazy to claim a personal relationship with such a classy place, but Henrietta's Table and The Charles Hotel are as down to earth as you can get in Harvard Square. Although frequented by the rich and powerful (the JFK School of Government is their next-door neighbor) Henrietta's Table is a place where a farmer feels as welcome as a queen. The hotel offers its courtyard for a farmers' market where we met Henrietta's chef Peter Davis about 15 years ago. Chef Peter was way ahead of the curve in showcasing local farmers and food producers and started using our products right away. We're proud to be both on the menu - our fruit preserves featured on the platter accompanying the finest artisanal cheeses in New England - and on the shelves of the little market at the front of the restaurant.
- The Bridges Inn - Swanzey, NH
- This lovely inn in the heart of Cheshire County offers easy access to the many covered bridges in our area for which the inn is named. Our friend Susan Schuster is the innkeeper, mother of Elizabeth and David who worked here picking raspberries a decade ago. The family runs the inn together with Elizabeth's husband Claudio whom she met while in the Peace Corps in Honduras. Beyond the antique furnishings and modern amenities, a main draw of the inn is David's breakfast - creative gourmet fare using local ingredients, including our preserves and mustards.
- Canterbury Shaker Village - Canterbury, NH.
- This living history museum has beautiful gardens, demonstrations of Shaker life, and an on-site restaurant featuring gourmet meals with herbs and produce grown there.
- Crescendo Acres Farm - Surry, NH
- Alpacas and fiber, Christmas trees, maple syrup and local offerings including our Farmhouse Mustards.
Grimes Marketplace - Main St., Keene, NH
- The place where people look for special, New Hampshire made products.
- Homestead Farms - Walpole, NH
- This picturesque Connecticut Valley family farm carries our mustards as well as their produce and local cheeses.
- The Inn at East Hill Farm - Troy, NH
- This is one of the best places in New Hampshire for a family farm vacation! They have lots of animals (all different kinds!) as well as swimming, hiking and many family friendly activities. They serve three meals/day featuring hearty farm fare, most of it grown on site.
- Orchard Hill Breadworks, East Alstead, NH
- The place to go in New Hampshire for true artisan bread - love and magic in every loaf - and our Farmstead Preserves & mustards.
- Rosaly's Garden - Peterborough, NH (open May-October - see their web site for dates)
- This beloved farm is a destination in pretty Peterborough, NH. Rosaly is famous for her flower cutting garden and pick-your-own fruit. She also carries outstanding locally made breads, pastries and specialty food products. Rosaly offers our Preserves, Mustards and Vinegars.