In the fall of 1946, Kay White and Donna Niles, veterans of the WWII Women’s Army Corps, left New York city on a vacation to New England and, due to a sick puppy they had with them, spent a couple of days in a friend’s cabin halfway up Mt. Kearsarge to let the puppy recuperate.
They were so impressed with the area that a short time later, they purchased 26 wooded acres at the foot of Mt. Kearsarge. The parcel was on the west side of the Old Winslow Road in Wilmot, and it is here they decided to put down their roots and try homesteading the land—which they called Freedom Acres Farm.
Wild fruits and berries were plentiful, and in 1949, Kay unearthed her great-grandmother's preserve recipes and made several different types of jams and jellies. The result was so successful, that she and Donna decided to send them as Christmas gifts to their Army buddies and friends in New York City.
This generated a great demand for more of these delicious preserves—which ultimately turned into a 40-year mail order business they called Taste of the Wild.
In this interview, Wilmot Flat resident Loretta Rayno, who was a close associate of Donna and Kay for 28 years, shares first-hand stories of Donna and Kay and their jelly business that ultimately brought 45,000 tourists a year to Wilmot.
If you would like to view a separate video of Loretta Rayno and her early life, please click here.
The Birth of Freedom Acres and A Taste of the Wild
Presented by the Wilmot Historical Society
Mary Fanelli – Wilmot Historical Society
Kathy Neustadt – Danbury Oral Historian
Judy Hauck – Videographer
Judy Hauck – Narrator
Lindy Heim – Interviewer
Produced by: Theresa Chamberland of StoryCatcher Studios
Music Easy Lemon
By Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
Kate Smith by Wikimedia Commons
Mount Kearsarge from Bog Mountain by Margaret Doody
Wilmot Historical Society