An Ipswich staple for more than 75 years, Marini Farm is a favorite of North Shore residents who appreciate local produce and friendly service. This year, the Marini Farm Stand has received a very welcomed facelift with the addition of a state-of-the-art kitchen and bakery. The project—a collaboration between third-generation owner Mike Marini, Mathew Cummings of Cummings Architects, and Shawn Cayer of Windhill Builders—has opened up a world of possibilities for the farm stand. In the words of Mike Marini, “The sky’s the limit!”
In 1928, Joseph and Gina Marini, along with two other families, founded Marini Farm. Ten years later, those other families moved away to start farms in other areas, making the Marinis the sole proprietors of the 200-acre Ipswich farm. Initially, they were wholesale distributors of potatoes, tomatoes, apples, pears, and berries. The retail business was launched when Gina began selling surplus strawberries by the side of the road in the 1970s. Her instant success inspired the Marini Farm Stand that exists today.
“When I came to the farm full-time after graduating college, I tried to focus on growing that retail business, to serve the customers in our area better,” explains Mike Marini, Joseph and Gina’s grandson. “Now, we sell about 70 percent of our crops retail, through the farm stand, and 30 percent wholesale.”
His grandmother’s influence extends beyond the farm stand, however. Marini credits her with guiding the creation of the bakery, too. “I grew up with my grandmother’s cooking and baking—she used to take ingredients right from the fields and make the most amazing dishes,” says Marini. “I always saw the value added, even at a young age. With a basic farm stand, we were limited—we couldn’t provide those types of freshly baked goods for our customers.” The farm stand’s original design left room for improvement— a refrigeration area occupied a large portion of the retail space, which left minimal work space for Marini and his employees. “Our hands were tied before,” he says. “With the renovation and the redesigned space, the possibilities have expanded.”
Marini, Cummings, and Cayer launched the project last fall, with the goal of speedy completion by the spring. In addition to the bakery and kitchen, Cayer and Cummings redesigned the large refrigeration and staging area, where crops can be stored and prepared, and added additional freezer space. Cayer completed much of the construction in just seven weeks: “We got the earthwork in just under the wire, before the ground froze, so we could work on the interior during the winter,” he explains. “The crazy winter definitely didn’t help, but by April and May we were just working on the finishing touches.”
Cummings had a vision for the property that would enhance the farm stand’s theme. “When we plan a design, we always look at the character of a property, and the character of the people involved,” says Cummings. “It was clear that the farm stand and the Marini family fit in very naturally with the landscape, and we wanted the bakery to be an extension of that.” Cummings spent several weeks studying precedents and sketching ideas for a bakery and kitchen that would feel light, welcoming, and rustic. Cummings explains, “We didn’t want the bakery or kitchen to feel at all sterile or commercial.” Warm red walls and wood shelving, barn door details that echo the farm stand’s exterior, and the bakery’s rustic countertop—made of salvaged wood from Cayer’s own property—help the bakery blend beautifully with all that surrounds it.
A key element to the design is the spacious kitchen, where Marini’s team of three bakers and other staff members can work comfortably. Two large windows open onto the space, letting in natural light for the bakers and allowing customers to see the freshly made pies, muffins, croissants, and cookies as they emerge from the oven. “We’ve seen such a great response from our customers—especially when they come into the bakery to see and smell the freshly baked goods,” Marini says. “Word of mouth and the quality of our items have been our two greatest marketing tools.”
The new bakery fits right in with the Marini way of life: 90 percent of the bakery’s goods are made from scratch, and many of them include ingredients fresh from the fields. Customers can purchase boxed pies and packages of fresh muffins and cookies, or order from the service counter, where they can enjoy friendly service and a cup of coffee from Atomic Café Roasters with one of Marini’s famous cider donuts. “I’m very excited to see how customers respond to the bakery in the fall,” he says. “People come from all over New England to visit our corn maze—it’ll be great to be able to send them home with a pumpkin pie or a dozen cider donuts.”
To accommodate the bakery’s growing popularity, Cummings, Cayer, and Marini hope to expand the farm stand even more in the future. “Mat and Shawn knew and understood my vision even before I did,” says Marini. “I was extremely lucky to be able to work with them.