The Cook Family
3 Generations working together
The Cook Family still works and plays together. Karen and Glenn, Glenn's father Ed, and their two sons all are involved in the Farm and its operations.
Glenn grew up in Hamilton with his 6 brothers and sisters in a house his dad designed on 2 acres. On this plot grew 40 fruit trees of different varieties, as well as gardens producing much of this large family's food. This is where Glenn's love for growing started. He always preferred to work outdoors. His first job was that of a caddy at Myopia Hunt Club, then he started his own driveway sealing business as soon as he had a driver's license, then he got his dream job co-managing a beautiful farm at the Bradford Estate in Hamilton where he cared for 40 head of Devon cattle while putting up 8000 bales of hay.
Following High School, Glenn graduated from Virginia Polytech after a 2 year stint at Colorado State University with a B.S. in Horticulture, specializing in Pomology (fruit tree science). Not even waiting a few days for the graduation ceremonies, he headed off to a job at Hilltop Orchards and Nurseries in Michigan where he managed 200 acres of fruit and 20+ employees. During his tenure there, his father bought what is now the north portion of Cider Hill Farm. Glenn decided it would be a good time to come home and help create a new family farm. Upon returning, Karen caught Glenn's eye, and they worked together to purchase an adjacent property on the south side of Fern Avenue where they planted the first apple trees on their honeymoon. Glenn worked for Corliss Brothers Nursery, Thompson Landscaping, taught at Essex Agricultural Institute, and managed Autumn Hills Orchard for half a dozen years while building Cider Hill Farm.
Glenn currently serves as a member of the Essex County Farm Bureau Board of Directors . He also is serving as President of the Essex County Fruit Growers Association and is vice president of the State Board of Directors for the Mass Fruit Growers Association. Glenn also serves on the Board of Corporators for the Provident Bank. In December 2011, Glenn received Mass Farm Bureau's highest award when he received Oganowski Distinguished Farmer of the Year Award for the state of Massachusetts at their annual meeting.
Karen grew up in Beverly with her 2 sisters and brother. Many still don't know that she has an identical twin nearby in Newbury. Annie and Karen pulled so many pranks when they were in school, but those are stories you have to get first hand. Karen spent her early years working for Henry's Market, then for Sweeney's Greenhouse in Beverly Farms, then as a dental assistant, then for Gould Insurance Agency in Amesbury, before coming home to the farm. She has always loved gardening and spent many hours working with her Dad around the house. Karen spends her time helping with the farmer's markets, taking care of the chickens, preparing awesome Monday night dinners for the crew, and basically helping anywhere and everywhere she can.
Karen is a Trustee for the Essex County Agricultural Society (Topsfield Fair), and is a former Mrs. Essex County of the Topsfield Fair (1991) and a current Trustee. Karen was also recipient of the Mass Office of Travel & Tourism - North of Boston Convention Visitors Bureau Geoff Woodman Hospitality Award.
Karen is frequently asked to represent Agriculture in Chamber for the Speaker of the House with Mass Farm Bureau delegates during the annual Ag Day in Boston.
Karen works behind the scenes at the farm, helping any way she can, and is often seen working at the Farmer's Markets we participate in.
Karen has traveled abroad twice in the last 5 years with our sons, Gregg & Chadd and a team from The Byfield Parish Church and T.E.A.R. for missions to Russian Orphans. She is often referred to as the "heartbeat " of Cider Hill Farm
Ed and Eleanor Cook
Ed and Eleanor are the dynamic duo who founded Cider Hill Farm, the ultimate outcome of a long range plan to one day retire to the countryside and have a ‘nice little apple orchard’ to enjoy. Unsuspecting at the time, they first viewed this magic location on a Sunday afternoon drive in 1963. The idea had been to just meander along some back-country roads, view new scenery, and end up at an ice cream stand, anywhere, so that the children riding with them, five at the time, would feel that the afternoon hadn’t been a complete waste of time. The scene most remembered from that drive was of a beautiful dairy farm spread out along a country road with a long, high hillside dotted with grazing cows. It would be over twenty years before they saw that scene again and recognize that the ‘for sale’ farm they had come to visit was the one the had stayed in their memories all that time.
But let’s backtrack a little. Ed and Eleanor met when both were freshman at what was then Carnegie Tech and is now Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. Ed was there on a George Westinghouse scholarship and majoring in physics. Fortunately for him, the technical school was affiliated with Margaret Morrison College for Women where Eleanor was studying home economics, design, and merchandising. They met as freshman and had a long time to get to know and love one another. After graduation, Ed went on for a Masters and Doctorate in Physics at Yale University, while Eleanor went to work for Penn State’s extension. They married in 1954, shortly after Ed’s doctoral dissertation was accepted and gainful employment in the near future was assured.
They initially resided in upper New York State while Ed worked at the GE Research lab. The winters were long and cold, but when you’re young and excited about the family springing up about you, that’s not a problem. Nevertheless, the two of them had similar childhood memories of the Atlantic seacoast. Ed’s dad waited every year for his two week vacation and the chance to bring his family to the New England seashore, usually Hampton or York beach, and take his first breath of ‘salt air’, while Eleanor’s experience was similar, the only difference being that their family destination was Bethany Beach, Delaware. After seven years with GE, Ed had an invitation to join Varian Associates at what was then their Bomac Division in Beverly, MA. The move to within site of the New England sea shore turned out so well that, thereafter, every opportunity to move and advance in other areas of the country was turned down, and their seven children were raised with a great love of this area and its Yankee heritage.
In the mid 70’s, with the children well on their way to adulthood, Ed and Eleanor revisited that long range plan for retirement, bought the Battis Dairy Farm in Amesbury, that magical property sighted so many years before, and Cider Hill Farm sprang to life. And indeed, it has a life of its own now, growing stronger every year into a more well-rounded and fulfilling creation than was ever envisioned.
Gregg is our oldest, 26 in 2012. He has spent many a day working the family farm, and has now ventured into a role working with Peter Oldak at Jewelltowne Vineyards in South Hampton, New Hampshire as assistant winemaker, and also vineyardist. He is enjoying this new direction very much. Gregg can often be seen wearing a kilt looking very Scottish, but though he does have a bit of Scot in him, he just likes how comfortable they are. Gregg loves to get together with friends to play strategy games and loves to chill out.
Chadd is our 23 year old, and like his brother, has spent a good deal of time working at home (where there is never a lack of work to be done) and went off to the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass and received a degree in Fruit and Vegetable Science. There is a very good chance he will make his way back to Cider Hill Farm, but we encourage both boys to explore the world to see what all their options are, so he took us for our word and is now living and working in New Zealand and plans to travel throughout the Polynesian Islands and Asia for the next 1 to 2 years. Chadd enjoys Martial Arts, hiking, photography, music, baking, and he is actually a very good knitter.