While spending time with your UMass Amherst student, a trip to Atkins Farms should be on the list for your next place to visit. Located 7.6 miles from campus on the corner of Bay Road and Rte. 116 in Amherst, is the New England farm responsible for bringing the first Macintosh apple trees to the area. The aisles feature Mass farm fresh produce, pastries, gourmet cheeses, fresh meats, breads, sushi, and a variety of local dairy products including milk and ice cream. Cider donuts are probably the most popular item sold by Atkins Farms. Their donuts are shipped all over the U.S. We bought a dozen and split one in the store immediately. Pure, moist, blissful apple and cinnamon flavor. It was so hard not to eat more, but we wanted to save room for lunch.
The specialty foods department features cottage industry products produced locally in New England but also stocks new and old favorites from around the world sure to complement the stellar UMass Amherst dining experience. Specialty coffees, a wide variety of hard-to-find teas, sauces, mustards, pastas, oils, vinegars, jams, jellies, chutneys, cake, scone, muffin and pancake mixes, marinades, dressings, and much more. I’m sure we were in that section of Atkins for half an hour. We just love scoping out different flavors for my husband’s culinary expertise.
Having intentionally eaten a light breakfast, we were ready for an early lunch. I am a self-proclaimed reuben connoisseur, so naturally I ordered the Atkins Orchard Reuben for $7.95. My reuben made with Boar’s Head turkey breast, with sauerkraut, melted Swiss cheese and thousand Island dressing on grilled rye was sandwich perfection. My daughter, the avocado freak, opted for the Loaded Quarry for $8.75, which included blackened turkey, cheddar cheese, and avocado on sourdough bread. Lunch was approved by us both.
The Candy Shop was our next stop. After all, every well-stocked UMass Amherst Residence Hall room needs some good snacks. Colors of sweetness brought me back to my childhood when penny candy was actually a penny! It was hard to decide between hand-dipped fudge and a caramel dipped apple. So, we bought one of each! Atkins has over 20 flavors of fudge available at all times. My daughter’s fudge habit was satiated with a ½ pound of Amaretto Swirl Fudge. Every Italian appreciates this almond-flavored twist on fudge.
We paraded through the aisles loaded with different local products. “Look at the artisan cheeses and olive bar, come here!”, I called. We ended up with a mild cheddar in the shape of a black cat. Next, we ambled over to see the array of Atkins Farms brand products. Their Apple-Cinnamon Pancake Mix and syrup found their way into our basket in anticipation of my daughter’s next at-home Sunday breakfast (hope she brings her roommate!).
Finally, a sweep through the beer and wine department found us picking up a bottle of locally made pumpkin wine, (just to try something new for fall!) and a six pack of Berkshire Brewing Company’s famous Steel Rail. An afternoon with the smell of fresh, locally grown EVERYTHING, displayed in a rainbow of colors, was just what this foodie pair needed.
After our relaxing afternoon of poking through Atkins with just the right amount of conversation and discovery, we decided to check out the Atkins Farm website when we returned to my daughter’s dorm room. Discovering that there are actual Atkins Farms family recipes available, we planned out our cooking and baking to-do list options. Grandma Gould’s Apple Crisp recipe was requested for my daughter’s next trip home. Personally, I wanted to try the Apple-Butternut Squash Soup. Atkins Farms never disappoints and affords hours of calm, down time with your UMass Amherst student.
JoAnn Roselli is a member of the UMass Amherst Parents Association Advisory Council. She is the parent of a freshman.