Early Saturday afternoon my wife and I drove through downtown and lower Centralville towards East Dracut and our destination: Brox Farm on Rte. 113, which has one of the region’s best farm stands. I don’t go to Brox’s as often as I used to, so it was like old times on a fall day in New England. The paved area in front of the stand featured displays of large and small pumpkins, piles of butternut squash, and pots of autumn mums. Inside we loaded up with Macoun and Honey Crisp apples, pickling cucumbers, plums and tomatoes, green peppers, and a dozen ears of corn. Two women at the counter kept busy with customers buying Shaw’s Farm ice cream and frozen chicken pies from a local vendor.
It’s reassuring to see a local farm doing well enough to keep its place in the local economy. On the way to Brox’s we had passed the new and expanded Market Basket on Bridge Street in Dracut, Sunrise Shopping Center may still be the name. That there is room for Market Basket and Brox’s says something about the choices people want—I’m sure many of the Brox’s customers make a special effort to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the source as a way to vote to keep the farm part of the town culture.
On the other side of Dracut, where New Boston Road bends toward Lakeview Avenue, Shaw Farm folks keep milking their cows and producing milk and ice cream and other items that are sold in its sizable farm store. From Brox’s, we had driven up and over Marsh Hill, where acres of farmland has gone to houses and subdivisions. We saw a new tract under construction. We also passed conservation land and Ogonowski farm at the top of the hill where the white gates swung open at the entrance to a long driveway that led to the main house. The landscape retains its rural character despite the go-go growth in Dracut. There was a lot of open space to start with, so you still feel like you are in the country even if only ten minutes from Centralville and Lowell’s urban density.