Words and photos by Kendra Murray.
PICNIC LUNCHBREAK: Enjoying Farm & Coast Market Takeout at Smith Farm Reserve, Dartmouth MA
After a busy morning on the computer, I was able to stop and get some fresh air when my work took me outside. As I drove around Dartmouth placing hole punches at DNRT kiosks for our upcoming Kids’ Passport Challenge, I realized the day had gotten away from me and it was time for lunch.
I wasn’t far from the Padanaram area of Dartmouth, so I decided to call in an order to Farm & Coast Market. Unfortunately, when I called, the sandwich that I wanted was no longer available. Apparently, the menu had been revamped for the season and the new one was not online yet, which is where I had looked. I was pretty disappointed (but not for long…keep reading) and ordered a Caprese Grilled Cheese and an iced latte with oat milk. I was tempted to get a green smoothie, but it had been a long day and I was in dire need of a little caffeinated pick-me-up.
When I got there, my latte was ready and they were just wrapping up my sandwich. I poked around the store a little bit, which is a foodie’s dream. There are plenty of delicious prepared meals, dips, snacks, and salads. They have a lovely butcher shop and everything is homemade, right down to the linguica and hot dogs. Additionally, there is an exceptional selection of cheese (my weakness) and other local goodies. As you might guess from the name, practically everything in the store is sourced from local farms and fisheries. You can expect good quality, fresh food in any season.
After picking up my lunch, I headed over to the Smith Farm Reserve, which is one of my favorite spots for hiking. I needed to put a hole punch for our Passport Challenge at this property as well and, as I was leading a guided hike there the next day, wanted to make sure the trails were in good shape and no trees or anything had fallen in the rain/snow storm from the week prior.
I was hungry, so I planned on taking the quickest route to the Reserve’s observation platform, which is a nice place to stop and sit for a meal. It’s a little over a half a mile to the platform from the parking area. Upon arriving, you can take in beautiful views of Nonquitt Marsh, which DNRT has worked to restore by replacing an old, undersized culvert with a newer and much larger one, increasing tidal flow and therefore bringing back a healthy salt marsh.
I sat down to eat my lunch and was surprised by the substantial size of my sandwich. After taking one bite, I was no longer disappointed that the other sandwich I had chosen was no longer on the menu. The cheese was rich and creamy, the tomatoes juicy, and the balsamic glaze a perfect balance of sweet and tart. And the bread. Oh my. The flatbread was chewy and crispy and really just an amazing piece of bakery artistry. I always appreciate well-made bread. The sandwich also came with a side of kale slaw, which I enjoyed.
After finishing my sandwich, I headed back to the parking area, taking the long way around a horseshoe-shaped pond. This is a man-made pond that at one time was stocked with trout and used for fishing. It’s worth taking a look at the aerial satellite view on Google. It really is a perfect horseshoe!
The property has a great mix of habitats from agricultural farmland, meadows, upland forest, freshwater wetland, wetland forest, ponds, streams, and salt marsh. Excluding my lunch, and sticking to the orange and blue trails, it is about 1.5 miles and 45 minutes to walk.
You can extend this walk slightly by adding the red trail. Be warned that this is a coastal property and does get wet after a lot of rain, especially the southern portion of the orange trail and the red trail. Wear appropriate footwear and save those sections for a dry day. It’s a pretty easy hike, unless, like myself, you pushed yourself doing a leg workout the day before and – whoa mama! – every step is excruciating. In all seriousness, though, it’s a fun, quick hike and easily one of my favorite places to explore.