At This Exit: Gas, Food, Full-Service Garden Center

The Allen brothers have been farming since 1956, I learned Monday afternoon. I’d stopped for gas in Westminster, VT, just before heading home from Grafton down I-91. This was no ordinary Mobil station with mini-mart. Allen Bro’s Farms, just off Exit 5, started as a farm stand for the family’s apple orchard. Now it’s a Mobilgas-station-complex with a spacious bakery-market-café featuring just-picked Vermont produce and local foodstuffs including cheese, maple syrup, pies and cider. And a garden center with an impressive selection of annuals, perennials, grasses, shrubs, small trees, pots, garden ornaments and pre-planted containers.

It’s been a hot summer, and a lot of plants in nurseries I’ve visited are cooked, wilted, ready for the compost heap. Not here at Allen Bro’s; they’ve got interesting plants in tip-top condition.

Amy waters the plants set up in front of the display of pottery and ornaments.

Why don’t I have any zebra grass in my garden—yet?

Celosia: one of the ‘ordinary’ annuals that’s usually planted in an unimaginative way. These large, pre-planted patio containers are a knockout, and on sale: a great deal at $15.

I came home with six plants to fill bare spots in the garden and add a little midsummer color to the deck, plus two obelisk-style trellises and a rough-hewn, pumpkin-shaped container. Plus a nice haul of local new potatoes, corn, tomatoes, lettuce and basil. The potatoes are for tonight. Here’s a taste of last night’s dinner (and today’s lunch):

The way to cook and eat this time of year: Fresh Vermont Corn Salad. Briefly blanch kernels cut from 6 ears of sweet corn; drain and mix with 3 local tomatoes, diced, and a handful of chopped fresh basil. Season with salt and white pepper and dress with a splash of olive oil and a tiny splash of white wine vinegar. Serve on fresh lettuce leaves.

About writedesigner

Graphic designer, writer, and gardener Ellen Shapiro is based in Irvington, New York. A frequent contributor to design blogs and magazines including Print, Imprint,, Communication Arts, and Etapes, she writes about trends, issues and personalities in design, illustration, photography, and visual culture around the world.
This entry was posted in Farms and Farm Markets, Food from the Garden, Travel-USA Northeast and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s