A new Harwood’s Farm Market to open in Wilton

WILTON – For more than 40 years, ending in 1998, Chet and Evelyn Harwood operated a grocery story, Harwood’s Market, at the northern end of Main Street in Wilton. After the use for various enterprises in the past few years, a market, using the same name and featuring local produce, is expected to return.

The year-round farmers market is an outgrowth of the Souhegan Transition Network, which promotes local sustainability through production of many products.

“This outlet will allow farmers to spend more of their time farming and less time selling,” spokeswoman Serafin Anderson said last week. “They will keep 80 percent of the value of their goods and 20 percent in exchange for presence in the store and its staff.”

Anderson said the organization is registered with the state, and has the necessary permits.

The building is owned by Glen Parker, who is agreeable to selling it to the farmer cooperative.

“We have a lot of farmers signed up already,” including Ledgetop Farm and Paradise Farm in Lyndeborough, Butternut Farm and Trombly Gardens in Milford, and Four Corners Farm and Bee Fields in Wilton.

The old market is ideal, Anderson said. “The refrigerated room is still there,” although cold cases have been removed.

Throughout April, they signed up “founding members,” who will have a vote in the establishment and operation of the cooperative. These will be farmers and ranchers, dairymen and consumers. Those interested in joining the cooperative are asked to provide a one-time donation of $50 to secure an option on the building. The asking price is $193,000, she said.

“We actually want to start renovating,” Anderson said, with a planned opening by June 1. Planned hours of operation would be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., six days a week. Each contributor to the market would be responsible for his or her section.

In addition to grass-fed beef, fruits and vegetables, herbs and local specialties, Anderson said they plan to be a “kind of convenience store” where customers can purchase bread and milk. Some of that could be local as well.

Several uses have been suggested for the lower level of the building, Anderson said, including a craft store or a diner. “Our plans are sort of fluid,” she said.

That level faces the Souhegan River where development of a walkway along the river from the Stoney Brook Bridge near The Dummy to the park in the middle of the street has been discussed several times. All of the stores have ground-level access in the back.

The store name was chosen to honor the Harwoods and their long association with and support of Main Street, Anderson said.

The Harwoods, who lived in South Lyndeborough, purchased a Red and White Store, one of four groceries on Main Street, in the mid-1950s. When they closed in 1998, they were the last one. The others, along with two gas stations, the drug store, the jewelry store, Maude Adam’s Variety Store and a gift shop, had all closed. The Wilton National Bank had become Fleet, which is now Santander.

The Harwoods were staunch supporters of the town and the school, and the resource for any group planning a dinner or a community supper. Their prices were modest and any unopened packages could be returned. They made generous donations to many organizations, including the food bank, and hired many youngsters to work in the store.

Much of their generosity remains unknown, those people whose needs were “put on the books,” and how much was never repaid.

Chet Harwood’s expertise was meat, and he aided the hunting community with the cutting and packaging of deer.

Asked about the use of the name, their son “Skip,” who worked with his parents, said, “I think my mother would be pleased.”

In recognition of their longtime support of school sports, the Wilton Lions Club donated a memorial bench at Carnival Hill in 2008. Chet was a founding member of the Lions Club.

Donations can be made to Harwood’s Farm Market and sent to St. Mary’s Bank, 603 Nashua St., Milford, NH 03055.