DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

May 23, 2013

Historic poet's homestead now open for season

Frost farm opens for the season

By Julie Huss
jhuss@derrynews.com

---- — DERRY — When Robert Frost walked the perimeters of his Derry homestead or headed up the road to Pinkerton Academy to teach, he was inspired to translate into words the surroundings that called to him.

Now, more than century later, his farm is a popular summer stop for residents and visitors.

The Robert Frost Farm on Route 28 is open for the season, offering visitors a glimpse into the poet’s life in Derry and the inspiration for a lot of his writing.

In between his duties as a farmer and teacher, Frost walked the land in Derry and often wrote about it. He, his wife Elinor and their four children lived at the farm from 1900 to 1911.

The property fell into disrepair through the years. Piles of rusted cars eventually found their way into the pastures and paths.

New Hampshire’s Division of Parks and Recreation purchased the property shortly after Frost died in 1963.

Frost fans now flock to his farm to see for themselves just what the poet enjoyed the most — a simple life and a delicate connection to its natural surroundings, offering inspiration for some of his most beloved poems.

The farm is a National Historic Landmark. Travelers from all over the world come to this simple spot to tour the house, roam the fields, and traipse through the meadows and tall grasses to somehow feel closer to the spirit of Frost.

For nine years, that is exactly what farm manager Bill Gleed has done.

Gleed, also a published poet, finds solace and inspiration working at the farm.

“I think we are going to have a really good year,” he said. “The lilacs are in bloom and the water’s in the brook.”

Last year, visitors from all 50 states and about 30 countries came to tour the Frost farmhouse and grounds.

Gleed said many come to take the official tour, but others just wander the wooded grounds.

Many Frost fans in the community support the space with donations, volunteering and upkeep.

Derry Garden Club members oversee a children’s garden at the farm. Local Rotarians also take on farm projects.

Gleed said the farm is in good shape for the season. The house will get a new coat of paint sometime this year and also new windows, but the tradition and style of the home will remain intact.

He said interactive trail signs are in the works so people walking the trails will learn about Frost along the way.

“This is very exciting,” he said. “People come from all over. If the buildings are closed, they will still have something to read on the trails.”

Throughout the summer, the farm hosts poetry readings and lectures on Frost, part of the annual summer literary series. A poetry group, Hyla Brook Poets, meets regularly at the farm.

Visitors planning to take in the entire Frost experience should expect to spend several hours at the farm. A video and display takes about a half hour, then a tour of the farmhouse is offered for a minimal fee. New Hampshire students under age 17 are admitted free.

Nature trails wind around the property and take visitors past familiar locations like “Hyla Brook” and Frost’s “Mending Wall.”

Some people visit to tour the old farmhouse to see how Frost and his family lived, from the soapstone kitchen sink showing the small notches where Elinor or Robert Frost might have sharpened a knife, to a Morris chair where the poet may have relaxed to read or write.

Right now, the farm is open Wednesday through Sunday, but Gleed said the farm will expand its hours of operation to seven days later this spring.

To learn more about the Robert Frost Farm, call 432-3091 or visit robertfrostfarm.org.