It's a hard job, but someone's got to do it.
This time of year, Clayton Ayotte is up every morning around 4:30. Sometimes dinner waits until 8:30. Even at night, there are things to keep his mind spinning.
For Jim Deroian, a day off from his 50-hour per week job at United Parcel Service means working in the fields, delivering produce and making improvements on the family property. His is converting the land to a farm where he plans to work full-time after he retires in a few years.
For these farmers, working the land is a lifelong commitment.
Russell Wilkins planted a victory garden in 1942. The son of a dairyman, he wanted to help the war effort, but was too young to enlist. He is still farming in 2014 and enjoying the fruits of his labors.
A recent lunch consisted of a perfectly ripe tomato sliced onto a cheese sandwich. A drizzle of vinegar, and that sandwich was a foodie's dream.
Gone are the days when two types of tomatoes and a field of corn could support a farm. The local farmers supply an increasingly demanding Boston market.
"The weirder, the better," Carl Hills said. He owns Kimball Fruit Farm, started by his Kimball uncles.
If the farmer brings purple, orange and white cauliflower to one of the 12 Boston farmers markets he goes to, only the white vegetable remains at the end of the day.
A whole new generation is being taught to appreciate different varieties of produce. "They're already eating greens and they would not eat at McDonald's," Hills said.
Dragonfly Farms grows 50 varieties of vegetables without using chemical fertilizers or pesticides, owner Susan Ventura said. They have fresh produce from the greenhouse through the winter.
Fortunately for their neighbors, these farmers sell their produce locally and some provide opportunities to get out on the farm and pick some of your own groceries.
Honor system roadside stands
21 Old Battery Hill Road, Townsend
40 Prescott St., Pepperell
eggs and produce year-round
42 West Meadow Road, West Townsend
Deroian produce is also sold at the Old Brick Store at 440 Main St., West Townsend
Wilkins Farmstand and County Florist
20 South Road, Pepperell, 978-433-8974
produce, full-service florist and local goods
Greg's Farm Stand
18 South Road, Pepperell, 978-433-5366
produce, child-friendly corn maze and pick-your-own pumpkins
Gary's Farmstand Too
161 Main St., Townsend, 978-597-5657
produce, plants and local goods
Kimball Fruit Stand
184 Hollis St., Pepperell, 978-433-9751
fruits and vegetables, pick-your-own apples, fall raspberries and pumpkins