"Coolest Grandmothers You Ever Saw" Churn Out Pies in Charlotte
Apple pie season is in full swing around the state, but perhaps no community in Vermont can rival the pie output of Charlotte.
That’s where 77 year old Martha Perkins is hard at work with her group of volunteers, churning out hundreds of pies. For Perkins, it’s strictly a labor of love.
The action mostly takes place at the top of a steep hill overlooking Charlotte in a small, old church where the kitchen is all but overflowing with apples and dough. Here, three grandmothers are trading stories and assembling pies in a sunny kitchen while the oven warms up. On this particular day, something’s gone wrong with the dough, and they’re scrambling to fix it. But they assure me it ‘usually goes like clockwork.’
At the center of the action is the Martha Perkins - a white-haired dynamo who says she’s seen by some as a nuisance - but she certainly gets the job done. Perkins organizes “about 30 volunteers, who work for two months.”
They produce 32 pies per session - 64 pies each week for 8 weeks… more than 500 pies total. Last year, they raised nearly $5,000, and though the pies are not as fancy as some, they do use local ingredients. “King Arthur Flour, Cabot Butter, local cider,” Perkins recites, but declines to disclose the precise recipe.
The apples come from an orchard in Shoreham originally owned by Martha’s great grandfather. The farm has been in Martha’s family for five generations and that’s where she learned to bake. Five years of volunteer pie production has helped refine the recipe and Perkins says the church oven is “extremely forgiving.”
Of course, the pie-buying public knows none of this as they drive by on Church Hill Road -- and they’re not even told that part of the proceeds supports the church’s charitable work.
Martha doesn’t just bake pies - she paints and posts signs, enlists volunteers and even stands by the road in front of the church twice a week - every Wednesday and Friday from 4-to-6 in all kinds of weather, alternately waving down cars with a bright red flag or wielding a red-and-white polka dotted umbrella. And she’ll do it through the end of October, adding, “we’re the coolest grandmothers you ever saw!”