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Gather ’round: Fire pits help take the chill out of winter

Trustees of Reservations properties add warming spots for safe socializing

Fire pits at Appleton Farms.
Fire pits at Appleton Farms.Rob Barossi

Perhaps we’ve been streaming too many History Channel episodes of ‶Vikings,″ but there’s something primal and comforting about gathering around a fire in this dark season. The magic might work even better in the 21st century than it did in the 10th. Those poor Vikings didn’t have s’mores.

Nor did they have the sleek stainless steel fire pits from Solo Stoves introduced in early December at two Trustees of Reservations properties.

The idea of winter programming at the sites was a natural byproduct of their popularity for hikes and other activities during the summer and fall. ‶We really felt like, let’s keep it going,″ says Rob Barossi, programming coordinator for Appleton Farms. ‶Let’s not have a sleepy winter and hibernate. Let’s keep the property really alive and active.″


Appleton Farms in Hamilton/Ipswich is a 658-acre working dairy farm and Fruitlands Museum in Harvard occupies the 210-acre site of a long-ago Transcendentalist community. Both properties are popular for winter hiking and — snowfall permitting — cross country skiing and snowshoeing. (North Shore Nordic volunteers will be grooming the Appleton Farms trails this winter.) What’s better than warming up around a crackling fire after getting some brisk exercise out in the cold air? Staff light the fire pits in advance so there’s no standing around and shivering while you wait for the logs to catch. Extra wood, however, is included, as is a poker to satisfy that irresistible urge to rearrange the coals.

‶We thought the fire pits would be a really great way to help people feel warm and festive outside during these colder months,″ says Lieza Dagher, Appleton Farms director.

Fire pits at Appleton Farms.
Fire pits at Appleton Farms.Rob Barossi

The fire pits are perfect for afternoon picnics. On weekends, Appleton Farms sells homemade hot soup and fresh bread from the farmhouse porch. You are welcome to bring your own food as well. Families, couples, and often a pair of couples make the flames the centerpiece of a socially distanced get-together. The fire pits also work nicely for a romantic date. (See Morrison, Jim or Feliciano, José.)


Each reservation is good for up to six people. Tickets at Appleton Farms and during three evenings at Fruitlands (Jan. 9, Feb. 14, and March 6) cover two hours at one of the socially distanced fire pits complete with benches, extra wood, and a s’mores kit ($60/family for members, $75/family for non-members). During the Frozen Fruitlands weekend daytime openings, private fire pit rentals are for a single hour ($30/$50). Both properties will have weekend snowshoe rentals available on a first-come, first-served basis ($10 members, $15 non-members). Bring your own skis. Parking is included at Fruitlands, but nonmember parking at Appleton Farms is $5 weekdays, $10 weekends and holidays.

Other Trustees of Reservations properties expected to add fire pits this winter include Chestnut Hill Farm in Southborough, Powisset Farm in Dover, and Castle Hill in Ipswich. For details and reservations, see www.thetrustees.org/firepits.

Contact Patricia Harris and David Lyon at harrislyon@gmail.com.

Patricia Harris can be reached at harrislyon@gmail.com. David Lyon can be reached at harrislyon@gmail.com.