Westward Orchards Celebrates with a Summer Soiree
Westward Orchards in Harvard has turned 100 years old, and the party invites are open to the public. We sat down with Kerri Green of the Westward family on the porch of the farm store to hear about the upcoming party. It is a hot late July morning. Across the porch, DPW employees enjoy a break in the shade drinking coffee and snacking on cider doughnuts. At the store's entryway are beautiful mounds of orange-red cherry tomatoes calling out for the taking. A group of visitors carry small buckets and head out back to pick blueberries. Wheels of decorative tractor windmills spin slowly in a trance of hot summer breeze.
There is a comforting sturdiness that resonates in the air of Westward Orchards. Perhaps it's what is derived through age, the result of weathering years of the natural storms of farming. The farm started as a summer retreat in 1919 and has grown into the life and passion of generations that followed. This history is why breaking bread with the family in celebration on August 10th is more than a party; it's a moment to be in the presence of the definition of devotion.
SOTB: This is such a big year for Westward Orchards. How did you as a family think about what you wanted to do to celebrate?
Kerri: We met in the spring as a group, and we talked about what we would want to do this year to celebrate. In June we did our 3rd annual tractor day and had a special cake and brought in friends (goats and sheep) from Lilac Hedge Farm for the weekend. This was a kid-centered event for the beginning of summer.
SOTB: Then, you all wanted an evening event?
Kerri: Yes, we wanted to do something more through Gather Westward, which we launched last year as a way to have a farm to table dinners and gatherings at the farm.
SOTB: What is the plan for the dinner?
Kerri: We connected with chef Aran Goldstein to prepare the meal. Aran's company, Noah's Table, is based out of Worcester and he is also part of the startup named Plates. Aran is excited because the mission of Gather Westward resonated with him. It is a good match; we are all so excited.
SOTB: Are you working with him on the menu?
Kerri: Yes, I have given him some desires. There will be substantial vegetarian options and as much gluten-free as possible.
SOTB: Will the majority of the produce be from Westward?
Kerri: Yes, the menu is going to be heavily based from here. We have a general idea about our harvest list, but we won't know for certain until closer to the date. Anything else will be locally sourced as much as possible, which is very important to us. There will be different tiers of the evening as well as desserts at the end. The dinner includes all food and non-alcoholic beverages. We are going to have a cash bar for beer, cider, and wine.
SOTB: The vibe of a soiree in the blueberry patch sounds spirited and lively.
Kerri: That is the feeling we are hoping for. There will be a large grazing table where guests can choose from many dishes. It isn't a sit-down dinner, so there won't be anything you have to sit and cut, it will be small plates to carry and chat. Seating will, of course, be available, but guests can walk around and mingle.
SOTB: It sounds like a lovely party with friends.
SOTB: The timing from 5-8:00 pm is very open for families.
Kerri: We decided to have it be family-friendly. When we were initially planning, my daughter Ella let me know that she wanted to come. Then when Aran visited the property, and we were walking around, Ella kept adding ideas. He commented that we should consider opening it up to families because she was chiming in left and right.
SOTB: Well, she is the 5th generation.
Ella: She sure is (laughing).
SOTB: You'll be having live music as well, right?
Kerri: Yes. Big Jon Short will be here. He is from the Worcester area. I had seen him at BirchTree Bread Company a couple of times and just loved him. His music is really fun and bluesy and funky. He is a one-person show, and I am just so excited for him to be here with us. I think everyone will enjoy it.
We walk around the back of the farm store, on the pathway headed to the blueberry patch where the party will take place. Kale grows in sturdy rows on the left while snapdragons and zinnias color the field to the right. As the path winds under the shade of the trees, our voices are interrupted by a chorus of cicadas. We make it to the clearing. Orchards roll in the distance creating a backdrop of lush greens. Kerri pulls fresh blueberries off a bush for us to snack as we chat. Thinking of this spot as the sun lowers and the air cools, with folks chatting over drinks as the farmland drifts to sleep, is like a snapshot taken out of an album of summer perfection.
SOTB: To gather in this clearing in the evening must be incredible.
Kerri: It is really special. It feels intimate, even with 50 people.
SOTB: 100 years. How does the family feel about this moment?
Kerri: It is monumental, and we are so grateful to be here. It isn't easy; farming has lots of ups and downs and lots of hard work. There is a dedication to our mission that keeps everyone here seven days a week during the season. We dive in deep and give it our all.
Take the opportunity to celebrate the 100th birthday party of Westward Orchards on August 10th, from 5-8pm. Tickets will be available for purchase through Wednesday, August 8th. General Admission is $50, and children 3-12 years are $20 (plus sales and local meal tax), which covers all food and non-alcoholic beverages. It will surely be a lovely night, in celebration of community, farmers, family, and dedication. It is raising a glass to honor 100 years that have passed and to look forward to all the possibilities to come.