Chicken pie. Homemade baked beans. Canned brown bread. Rhubarb pies–grandma’s kind of cooking. That’s Nason’s Stone House Farm.
Named after the Nason family’s 1849 stone house, which was built on the foundation of a house erected in 1710, the business flourished despite its obscure location. Jimmy Nason, alongside his daughter, Jody, and son, Kevin, are the hands that tend the ovens, bake the bread, and stir the gravy on their Boxford property, where three generations have lived and worked.
Back in Jimmy’s father’s day, Henry Nason ran a poultry farm in an annex–the "brooder" house–off the main house. In it, they housed 15,000 chickens for hatching eggs that were sent south. They were one of the five Boxford farms to do so. Today, they are the last one standing, though the chickens are long gone.
In 1957, the family started their famous chicken pie business. “The chicken pie was our initial (specialty food) niche,” says Jimmy, whose mother, Ruth, began making them in the kitchen of the stone house. A year later, she found a local girl to help her after school. Eventually, they moved into the cellar to cook for catering gigs, and in 1965 they moved the operation into the brooder house, which had been renovated to serve as a commercial kitchen, complete with antique ovens and countless stovetop burners. They were selling their chicken pies to 22 markets during their heyday, (You could buy three single-serving pies for a dollar. Now, they sell for $3.95 each.)
The catering business ran from 1961 through 1982, and primarily served Essex County. “We did the Topsfield Fair for 22 years–charcoal broiled chicken was our thing,” says Jimmy. “The biggest job we ever did was in 1976... North Andover was having a Fourth of July celebration–we did 2,000 barbecued chickens that day.”
On the shelves sit sunny jars of local honey from beekeeper Ben Chadwick, who has hives all around Boxford as well as some located on site at Nason's, while R.E. Kimball and Company in Amesbury supplies them with jams and jellies. “They are a small little place like we are,” notes Jody. “They are a hidden gem…right on the Merrimack River.” During Thanksgiving, the Nason’s sell 10 to 12 cases of R.E. Kimball’s cranberry sauce. “They probably have over 200 different flavors [of jams and jellies], and we carry about 20 of them,” notes Jody.
To capture the spirit of Nason’s Stone House, Jody shares one of her favorite memories of the place. A young girl requested that Santa bring her a gift certificate to Nason’s, where she wished to buy her own chicken pie. Having discreetly sold it to the child’s mother (signed Santa), Jody had the pleasure of seeing the girl return after the holidays to make her purchase. “It was what she wanted for Christmas–one of our chicken pies!”
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About Nason's Stone House Farm Inc.
For the finest locally sourced fresh food around, come to Nason's Stone House Farm Inc. You'll find one-of-a-kind items at our shop. We are a local, family-owned and operated business.
Stop by our conveniently located store and pick up your favorite homemade pastries, pies, jams, and more!