September 1, 2017

Historic Hawkes Farm Market is reborn by Stephen Signor

Four score and five years ago the Hawkes family brought forth to our community a farm stand located off Route 302 in Windham; dedicated to providing fresh produce and treating all patrons local and afar with equal service.  Fast forward to 2015 when the Hawkes made the difficult decision that it was time to close their stand for good. With thoughts of expanding the number of locations, Tomi and Elaine Chipman immediately approached the family to propose renting the popular summer location. 

With failed efforts, the stand lay dormant for a year. Persistence triumphed and this time around, the purchasing of the property seemed the only other option. Chipman now owns the iconic spot which opened for business over the Fourth of July weekend. 
As for Florence Hawkes, she was glad to see this site remain a farm stand. “When they first approached us we didn’t want to sell and were not willing to rent so we declined their offer. When they contacted us earlier this year we changed our decision and put the site up for sale.” Truth is that the Hawkes were so accommodating as to let the stand open before the paperwork was done and the sale final. “I told them they could open the stand and I wouldn’t charge them any rent for two weeks while details were being ironed out.” That leniency would be extended but it wouldn’t be long before the stand was theirs.

The general consensus is that those who waited for something good to happen and had since noticed activity, were pleased the property was being used, especially to continue as a farm stand. Though the growing season was relatively early, the choices of produce continued to grow (pun intended) as the summer progressed. 

John from Westbrook has always been a regular. “I have been coming here when it was Hawkes for as long as I can remember.” His return is inevitable.  “Absolutely, as long as the variety is good I will continue as I always have to stop here.” 

Tim Chute, a very distant relative of the owners of Chute’s Breakfast in Windham expressed his thoughts on this, the forth Chipmans location. “We’re local, they’re local. It’s all part of that local feel for knowing where what you consume is coming from.” Of course he was referring to the raw milk that he delivers from a local dairy right here in Windham.

Pat Foster, from Massachusetts had been stopping every year for a decade, on his way to vacation in the Lakes Region. “I was surprised and disappointed to find it closed up last year. It was sort of a tradition to stop here both coming and going.” Now that it is open, Foster couldn’t be happier. “I’m really pleased to see another farm took it over. The tradition continues!”  

If there is any caveat that wasn’t previously expressed when it was Hawkes, it has to be the traffic. While it is fruitful to business the noise levels are a bit much to get used to. “Sometimes we have to yell over each other to carry on a conversation with customers,” according to college student Sarah Sanville who has been working for the farm for some time. But that is a small price to pay. “Almost every person that comes in here expresses how elated they are we are here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, ‘oh my gosh! I’m so glad the stand is opened back up!’ They love it,” continued Sanville.

We knew people would be glad we’re here because of the reputation Hawkes had for so many years. We knew we would get local business but it has been overwhelmingly a success. It has been above expectations. Everyone is delighted that the stand is once again open and can still get fresh produce that is picked same day,” expressed Elaine Chipman. 

With enough grown on their 65 acre farm supplying this new location, no doubt it is here to stay. In fact there is talk of perhaps expanding the site. That is something that is a couple years down the road.  “There’s long term plans to build a bigger stand by taking down this one down and putting up a bigger stand.” For now they are taking it one season at a time.

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