The land that is Hutchins Farm had been designated farmland on maps as early as 1775 and was purchased in 1895 by Charles Hutchins, a retiring minister from Medford, Massachusetts. Charles was the great grandfather of the current owners John and Gordon Bemis. Originally run as a dairy farm it was known as Punkatasset Farm. Punkatasset, from the Natick Indians meaning shallow brook, is the name of the hill on which the farm sits.
Gordon Hutchins, son of Charles Hutchins, had been a high school teacher and went on to graduate from the Cornell School of Agriculture. In 1912 he took over the operation of Punkatasset Farm from his father. The farm had been primarily a dairy farm until Gordon took control and over time added nearly 50 acres of apple orchard and 12 acres of asparagus among other crops. At one point both the milk that was processed on the farm and the asparagus he grew were transported to the Boston Market by Horse Carriage. Apples were stored in West Concord and sold to local stores and were also sold by the barrel directly to individuals.
In the early 1950’s commercial farming ceased at Punkatasset Farm. Some of the land was leased out for haying, the apple orchard was cut down and much of the original farm was sold: some to the town of Concord, some to Harvard University. Throughout this time the homestead on Punkatasset Hill still remained and this is where the two Grandsons of Gordon Hutchins (John and Gordon Bemis) were raised.
Gordon developed a passion for ecology and organic agriculture while still in high school. He initially pursued a degree in engineering after high school but came back to the land that nourished him. He began Hutchins Farm as a large garden in 1973. John had gone into the Peace Corps after college and later studied architecture. In 1975 John joined Gordon in expanding the garden and building Hutchins Farm.
From the beginning, Gordon’s commitment to ecology meant that their farming practices would be organic. Not only was organic farming physically challenging in the early 70’s but it also defied the conventional mindset about farming at the time. The decision to grow their produce without resorting to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides was initially met with skepticism from the general farm community. Today, organic is not only an accepted practice but much sought after because of the benefit to the earth, the health to the consumer and most of all it just tastes better.
The first Farmstand was built by John and Gordon in 1974 and originally operated as a self-serve outlet for the surplus food left over after John and Gordon fulfilled their orders from food Coops, restaurants and stores in Cambridge and Boston. The current Farmstand was built by John and Gordon in 1987 and still serves the community and farm today. Currently, most of the produce is sold at the farmstand with some being sold at local Farmers’ Markets. What is not sold generally is donated to soup kitchens or returned to the land as compost.