Wander past crop fields and cow pastures at the country’s oldest continuously operating farm.
What makes Appleton Farms a special place?
Rolling grasslands, grazing livestock, stone walls, and historic farm buildings are part of this 1,000 acre pastoral landscape – a rare glimpse into New England’s agricultural past. A gift of Colonel Francis R. Appleton, Jr., and his wife Joan, Appleton Farms is one of the oldest continuously operating farms in the country, established and maintained by nine generations of the Appleton family.
Cows graze out on pasture and are milked each morning and afternoon – their milk is used to make aged and fresh cheeses on-site at our cheese kitchen and sent to be bottled in glass bottles at Puleo’s in Salem before returning to our Dairy Store. Fresh eggs are collected daily from the chicken “tractor” that houses our chickens, while our free-range grass-fed beef herd grazes in the Great Pasture. During the haying season, the farm produces thousands of bales of hay annually to feed the livestock, and all farm waste is composted and turned out on our fields. Hundreds of families visit the farm during the growing season to pick their own vegetables as a part of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
Start your visit at Jimmy’s Barn where you will find our Farm Store, plenty of parking, and maps to lead you through the farm. Head out past the store and through the farm fields toward the barns to say hello to the friendly Jersey cows, goats, sheep, and chickens. Stop by the milking barn and observe the afternoon milking at 4PM each day and peek inside our creamery where we make our 5 different cheeses.
At our Carriage Barn, adults and equestrians will enjoy the tack room which displays Appleton family saddles, bridles, and fox hunting gear from years past while the children enjoy climbing aboard an antique carriage or exploring our Farm Discovery Boxes. The new Visitor Center is open Saturday and Sunday in winter and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, May through October from 11AM-3PM. Visit our Visitor Center and read more about the “green” transformation of the Appleton family home, the Old House, and find out about things to see and do at the farm. Learn more about the Visitor Center at Appleton Farms.
Bring a picnic or pick up some provisions at our Farm Store and enjoy an afternoon in the gorgeous Stone Paddock across from the Carriage Barn.
Grasslands here harbor one of New England’s largest populations of bobolinks and meadowlarks. Wetlands provide important spring feeding stops for migrating marsh birds and are home to frogs and salamanders, including the rare blue- and yellow-spotted salamander. Deer, fox, coyote, and mink are found in the fields, while the elusive fisher is common in the woodlands. Fall brings migrating hawks, and pine stands shelter owls in winter.
Six miles of footpaths, bridle paths, and farm roads (easy walking and great for jogging strollers), some of which are part of the Bay Circuit Trail, crisscross the farm. We ask that you stay on marked paths and roads, observing which are for pedestrians and which for equestrians. Green Horse permits are required for horseback riding at Appleton Farms. You can also walk at the adjacent Appleton Farms Grass Rides.
When to Visit
Trails are open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours, 3 hours if also visiting Appleton Farms Grass Rides. Bring a picnic to enjoy in the bucolic Stone Paddock.
Public restrooms are available in the Carriage Barn or the Visitor Center in the farmstead area.
Appleton Farm Camp
New this summer: a summer camp at the farm!
Learn more >>
The Trustees reserves the right to photograph or video visitors and program participants for promotional use, and usage of our properties implies consent. Find the full policy here.
Hamilton and Ipswich, MA 01982
Get directions on Google Maps.
Visitor Center & Dairy Store Parking Area: From Rt. 128, take Exit 20A, Rt. 1A North. Travel about 6.5 miles north on Rt. 1A and turn left at the Appleton Farms entrance sign (just after entering Ipswich sign). Inside stone gates, follow signs to visitor center or dairy store. Address is 219 County Road, Ipswich.
Waldingfield Rd. Parking Area: From Rt. 128, take Exit 20A, Rt. 1A North. Travel about 7 mi. north on Rt. 1A and turn left onto Waldingfield Rd. to parking area (20 cars) at street corner.
When to Visit
Trails are open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 2 hours, 3 hours if also visiting Appleton Farms Grass Rides.
Farm Store Hours
Saturday & Sunday, 10AM–4PM;
Visit the Dairy Store at Appleton Farms >>
Visitor Center Hours
November 1–April 30: Saturday and Sunday | 11AM–3PM
May 1–October 31: Friday–Sunday | 11AM–3PM
Visit the Visitor Center at Appleton Farms >>
Trustees Members: FREE. Nonmembers: $3.
Green Horse permits are required for equestrian use of the property.
In 1636, Samuel Appleton established the farm, growing vegetables, corn, and hay. Later generations of Appletons expanded into timber, beef, and dairy production, using progressive farming techniques beginning in 1868. By the late 19th century, the farm was primarily a summer country estate, complete with foxhunts and steeplechases, stone pinnacles from the Gore Hall Library at Harvard (alma mater to generations of Appletons), and the Grass Rides – five miles of trails and tree-lined grass avenues (called "rides") built for horseback and carriage driving.
Learn more about Appleton Farms and the family that cherished it at the exhibition Of Farm and Family: Generations of Appleton Family Portraits.
Property Acquisition History
Relinquishing the life estate established at the death of her husband Col. Francis R. Appleton, Jr. in 1974, Mrs. Appleton deeded approximately 658 acres with buildings in 1998.
Archival material related to Appleton Farms is available to researchers at the Archives & Research Center in Sharon, Massachusetts.
Appleton Family Papers (ca. 125.0 linear feet)
Regarding the Appleton Family and Appleton Farms, 1850s-1999.
Partial folder list available at the Archives & Research Center
The Archives & Research Center welcomes donations of documents, manuscripts, records, photographs, maps and memorabilia that pertain to a particular property. Please contact us at 781.784.8200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roll up your sleeves and dig in at America’s oldest working farm! Our farm-based education programs help to grow and nurture a stronger connection to sustainable agriculture and local food systems through hands-on classes, workshops, and special events.
Appleton Farm Camp
Farm Camp introduces children to the farm through games, activities, arts, adventure, harvesting, cooking, and most importantly time for free play in the great outdoors. We operate one of New England’s few dairy farms with friendly Jersey cows and their irresistible calves, a commercial teaching kitchen fully equipped for kids, a cheese making operation where kids can experience the sights and smells of a cheese cave and try their hand at cheese making, and endless opportunities to explore our natural world. Learn more >>
A year-round program designed for people who love food. Whether you’re a beginning cook or a practiced chef, we’re offering classes, workshops, and farm-to-table dinners featuring seasonal food fresh from the farm. Learn more >>
Appleton’s Farm-based Education Programs
We offer a menu of programs throughout the year to introduce children and adults to our working farm. From tours to hands-on service projects, seasonal special events and behind-the-scenes tours, we invite you to come enjoy this educational farm all year long. Find all of our things to do by clicking here.
Some of our favorites include:
For children and families:
Rise and Shine Little Farmers
Dig In! Farm Camp
Butter in the Barnyard
April and February Vacation Programs
Sugar Shack Saturdays
Fun in the Farmyard
Father’s Day Bluegrass BBQ
Mother’s Day Alpen Festival
Easter’s Egg-cellent Adventure
Flavors of the Farm: A Culinary Tour and Tasting
Meet the Machines & Summer Picnic
Family Farm Day
The Farm Nisse, our winter holiday celebration
Gifts from the Farm Kitchen
Cooking with Fire
From the Pantry: Strawberry Preserves
Thanksgiving on the Farm
A Harvest Dinner: Celebrating Autumn on the Farm
From the Fields: Greens and Dressings
For the Pantry: Pickle Making
Fresh Crop Culinary Workshops
Cheese Making Workshops
and many more
Dairy Tours for older children and adults:
Pasture to Plate cheese making tours (Sundays in June, September and October)
Farm History and Pinnacle Tours in September
The new Visitor Center is open Saturday and Sunday in winter and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, May through October from 11am- 3pm. Visit our Visitor Center and read more about the “green” transformation of the Appleton family home, the Old House, and find out about things to see and do at the farm. Learn more about the Visitor Center at Appleton Farms.
Customized culinary workshops and private events are available by emailing Kathryn at email@example.com. Birthday parties are also available by emailing Caroline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Farm Field School Programs
We welcome schools, scout groups, homeschool groups, and others to enjoy a variety of programs year round. Topics include: Soil Scientists, Sunshine Made my Milk, Meet the Maples, No Matter the Weather and more! For pricing information and a complete program list see our program brochure. For additional questions and scheduling, contact us at 978.356.5728 x4118 or email@example.com
When you volunteer at Appleton Farms you become a critical part of our mission to preserve Massachusetts’ landscapes and landmarks for future generations. Spend an hour, a day or a make a longer commitment at the farm – the opportunities are endless: work alondside staff in the fields, help with education programs, volunteer in the visitor center, lend us your expertise for a workshop or join our trail steward team. Learn more about volunteer opportunities at the farm and with The Trustees.
Today, we provide share to more than 650 families and we donate more than 10,000 pounds of food annually to local food pantries. We grow over 200 varieties of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers suitable to the New England climate. Our practices are guided by the National Organic Standards and by our own goals for operating sustainably. We invite you to learn more about Appleton Farms and Community Supported Agriculture.
Learn more about the Appleton Farms CSA >>
We’re bringing dairy products to the “community doorstep” by establishing a Jersey milking herd at Appleton Farms and creating an on-site dairy farm store to sell milk and other products to the public. Our new farm store offers our farmstead milk, cheese, butter, beef, and eggs – as well as an assortment of other locally sourced products including yogurt, ice cream, cheese, pork, sausage, maple syrup, honey, bread, artisan crafts, and artwork.
Learn more and visit our Dairy and Farm Store >>
As the oldest continuously operating farm in the country, Appleton Farms has secured a place in history – now it's taking a leap toward a great green future.
In October 2009, work began on a major project to convert the property’s historic Old House, the main part of which dates to 1794, into the Appleton Farms Center for Agriculture and the Environment. The new facility will provide a public gateway to the property and serve as a home base for all of the farm’s programs.
This is not just a renovation, it’s a green-ovation. When complete, the Center will have earned LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, will be a net-zero-energy building (producing and using the same amount of energy), and will serve as a demonstration model for sustainable restoration.
Management Planning for Our Properties
Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:
Printed trail maps are distributed free from bulletin boards in parking areas. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We suggest you download a trail map before your visit.
To subscribe to the Appleton Farms newsletter, email your name and mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy your wedding, rehearsal dinner, special occasion, or corporate event at Appleton Farms, America’s oldest working farm in Ipswich, MA. Use our 1,000 acres of pastures, barns, and farm fields as the back drop for your special event that can either be tented or simply gorgeous under our big skies and bright stars. Appleton Farms offers its recently renovated “Old House”, bluestone patio, tented outdoor kitchen, and surrounding grounds for parties up to 250 people. Other options offered on the farm include renting the house or grounds for smaller retreats, wedding showers, and baby showers or organizing a private culinary class in our state-of-the-art teaching kitchen. Please contact Kathryn Garry to schedule your visit by calling 978.356.5728 or email email@example.com.
We welcome photographers on the property, but please be aware that this is a public space and there may be programs or events running at the same time. We require that all photographers holding photo shoots are Trustees Members and check in with staff before using the property. Photographers are not allowed to set up equipment that interferes with farm operations or public use and enjoyment of the property. Using the inside of any barns for photos is not allowed. Please call the farm office at 978.356.5728 or stop by the Farm Store to become a Trustees member.
Essex National Heritage Area
North of Boston CVB
North Shore Chamber of Commerce
Town of Hamilton
Town of Ipswich
Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.
Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:
Click on links below for further visitor information:
Before Setting Out
We’d love to hear about your visit! Here are three easy ways to let us know what you think:
Our challenge to get out and hit the trails. Hike 125 miles between May 21 & December 31 and be entered to win prizes.
Let's get hiking >>
Dairy Store Hours:
Saturday & Sunday, 10AM–4PM
Learn more >>
Visitor Center Hours:
Oct 1–April 30:
Saturday & Sunday | 11AM–3PM
May 1–September 30:
Friday–Sunday | 11AM–3PM
Learn more >>
Appleton Farm Camp
New this summer: a summer camp at the farm!
Learn more >>
We’re offering classes, workshops, and farm-to-table dinners.
Learn more >>
For cross country ski trail condition information please visit www.nsnordic.org.
Advisory: Authorized hunting is allowed on this reservation. See Regulations and Advisories at left for more information.