Friday Flashback #142

The Westport Farmers Market opens next Thursday (May 23). The Imperial Avenue parking lot will be filled with vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, honey, ice cream, even pet food.

Musicians will play. Food trucks will serve pizza and tacos. It’s a wonderful part of Westport — organic, sustainable, (mostly) healthy and fun.

We have Paul Newman (in part) to thank. Back in 2006, he and chef Michel Nischan created the first Westport Farmers Market, at the Westport Country Playhouse parking lot.

But that was not the actor/automobile racer/lemonade, popcorn and salad dressing king/philanthropist’s first farm stand experience.

For years, he was a customer at Rippe’s. Westporters pretended to be cool as cucumbers as they saw Newman — then “only” an actor — and his wife Joanne Woodward casually checking out ears of corn, or putting apples in a bag.

Rippe’s Farm Stand, in its early years. It later grew into a more substantial building. (Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann, via Mrs. George Rippe Collection)

Rippe’s was one of several farm stands in Westport. Produce came from orchards behind it — stretching eastward, from Turkey Hill North to behind Long Lots Junior High — and fields on North Avenue, behind Burr Farms Elementary School.

The North Avenue farm is gone (so is Burr Farms School). In its place is a private road — the strangely named Greystone Farm Lane. In a nod to the past, a few of the homes include silo-like architecture.

The Post Road orchards and stand are gone too. They’ve been replaced by what — at the time — were Westport’s first and only condos.

In another nod to the past, they’re called Harvest Commons.

13 responses to “Friday Flashback #142

  1. I was a customer at Rippe’s. It always amazed me that the farm stand was torn down because the new tenants of the housing development would have loved having fresh produce at their doorstep. And the actual corner where the farm stand stood was never used for anything else. But the developers also wrecked the farm.

  2. Sylvia Robinson Corrigan

    I remember seeing rows and rows of the most beautiful, colorful zinnias at Rippes… and I remember the stand in front of the house on North Avenue, where they sold the corn from the fields in back. I would see it coming from a summer music session at Staples, led by George Weigle, having just joined in the chorus of “Without a Song,” – which among other things evoked images of cornfields, ploughs and grass growing tall, – none of which would amount to much at all “without a song.” And now, many of those places that were once nearby here in Westport are just memories. Thanks for the memories!

  3. Jacques Voris

    Greystone Farms is so named because the town denied the developer’s choice of “Mill’s Farm Lane” on the basis that too many roads in Westport already started with “mill” and it could be confusing to emergency services. The original choice was because the land had originally belonged to Charles Mills (1833-1909) and his father John Mills (1809-1855). It was Charles who built the fine Italianate house that still stands at 19 North Avenue and the barn many will remember. Some of the timbers from the barn were incorporated into the new houses. The Rippes acquired the property around 1920.

  4. I lived on Mill’s St at that time. They told the local landscapers they could cut the apple trees and keep the wood as they were about to start the condos. You don’t get a lot of wood from an apple tree. Never did or would do that to a beautiful orchard. Unfortunately I have had to remove so many apples trees in my 40 years. Practically all old estates had orchards. Apple trees have a shorter life and tend to hollow out.

  5. Bob Weingarten

    JV can verify this but according to Judge Adams manuscript in 1951, Edward P. Mills purchased land from E. J. Taylor in 1924 and put in a street that he called Mills Street.

  6. My first payrolled job was at Rippe’s, where the sign read “Rippe’s ÷ Farm” and Henry taught me the fine art of making and then, uh, upgrading apple cider, in the mill and press that is partly shown at right in this photo. Picked corn, peaches and McGoun apples behind the store. Best ones went into bags and baskets on the stand in front. Drops and damaged fruit – of all species and varieties – went in the cider mill, with barely a rinse. Racked and bottled fresh and raw, unfiltered in gallon glass jugs, always a barrel of the good stuff working on a rack in the loft above the store.

    • Some of the Rippe’s apples and cider came indirectly from the old Silverbrook Farm. I say that because we used to bring in some of our apples—from apple trees on our property on Easton Road that was once part of the Silverbrook property—and exchanged them for free apple cider at Rippe’s.

  7. Mary Cookman Schmerker

    Ahhhh! The memories. Best apples in the whole world…..

  8. USED TO SHOP AT RIPPE’S OFTIMES SHOULDER TO SHOULDER WITH PAUL NEWMAN . . . .

  9. Aracelli Cetina

    what time does it open?

    >

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