Tag Archives: farming

Week 2 supporting our local farmer.

 

Our second batch of organic veggies from across the street was a nice bonanza.

 

 

Red lettuce, spinach, mixed greens, snap peas, zucchini, celeriac, chard, turnip…. and something I couldn’t identify.

 

 

Since there was a cornucopia of greens that day, salad was on the dinner menu… and because this was green?

In it went.

Bad idea. Very bad.

It was the bitterest, most noxious thing to ever enter my mouth.

 

 

Doing a little research, I discovered it might be a variety of kale.

Curly kale.

No wonder I didn’t like it!

And no surprise it ended up here:

 

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And take my advice, if anyone offers you celeriac?

Run.

It looks like a giant turd….

 

 

It’s hard to peel.

 

 

And will break your tooth if you’re not careful.

There’s a reason most people throw it out when they grow celery.

And now, I know why.

Support your local farmer.

 

Especially if he’s your neighbor.

Across the road from our house is a ( 65 acre?) family owned and operated certified organic vegetable farm.

 

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We love our neighbors. They’re alternative lifestyle vegans, and tend to do things a little differently….. which has made for wonderful blog fodder over the years.

How differently do they do things you ask.

Here’s a picture of my husband taken a few years ago. He was starting to put a roof on the chicken coop that had been turned into a farmhand’s cabin.

Yes…. that’s a hot water heater up in the tree behind him.

 

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Isn’t that where you put yours?

Fast forward 6 years and the farm has grown by leaps and bounds. Expanded cultivation, multiple greenhouses, migrant workers, a new wife, 2 more children….

And goats.

 

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Our neighbor has earned a stellar reputation among the expensive Old Port restaurants and did most of his business with them…. until the Corona virus shut everything down.

It was literally do or die for the farm, and in desperation the family opened a farm stand on their property.  It’s doing well, but can never make up for the market they lost.

So they’ve also brought back their CSA  (community supported agriculture). Not sure if you have this where you live, but it’s become very popular in Maine.

The following is a heartfelt plea they sent to our town and an explanation of how it works if you’re interested.

We lost 90% of our market when the restaurants closed, and while we have made due, we don’t have much we can count on right now. We launched a short term CSA about 8 weeks ago, and it’s gone really well, and folks have been really happy.
Now we’re launching our full season share.
PLEASE consider joining our CSA this year, AND/OR send this along to anyone every one you know! Thanks!!
2020 Summer Farm Share.
We are a small family vegetable operation, entering our 12th season, here in **********  Maine. Over the years we have grown in acreage, in scale, but also in reputation and recognition. We worked hard to forge relationships with all the best restaurants in Portland, and have prided ourselves in being the foremost purveyor for most of them. It has been a great niche, and has served us well….. Until the corona virus.
So, like many folks (most especially all our dear restaurant buddies) we are adapting to the times, changing our approach, attempting an agile and nimble, careful but bold re-boot, in order to keep ourselves afloat during these rough times. So far , we haven’t missed a beat.
We are a four season farm, and so while mid March is typically a pretty bleak time of year, we were able to pivot to a C.S.A. model, nearly overnight. Thanks to our good friends at some of these restaurants, our reach extended to many of their faithful followers, and in 3 days we had nearly 150 members for our first iteration of the C.S.A. model: a 4 week pre-pay, safely handled and safely distant exchange of vegetables.
We have been so unbelievably pleased with all the wonderful folks who joined us for these first 2 rounds of the farm share model. If it weren’t for them, our income would have been ¼ what it has been.
And so here we are now, launching our in earnest, 20 week “summer share” starting Wednesday day June 10th. Our goal is simple, we wish to continue to grow food here in Maine, in an honest and ecological way, and to safely purvey that food to the good folks of our broader community (you!). We are well experienced in pushing all the boundaries of seasonality, as well as the “unknown” of some of the more esoteric selections much preferred by your favorite chefs in Portland. We can promise to you, as wide a selection as our climate and imagination can provide, over the duration of the 20 week period you would be signing yourself up for.
The idea of CSA (community supported agriculture) is multifaceted, but the theme, is mutual benefit. We enter a 20 week partnership , which when done well, means we both make out, by trading off choice. We owe you all the best we’ve got, and the most variety we can. You owe us, pre-payment, and 20 weeks of dealing with whatever you get. But your benefit, is the certainty of a bounty of familiar food, from a local farm you trust, and at a significant discount compared to what you would pay at the farmers’ market or the co-op. Our benefit, is knowing for certain, that what we are growing is already sold, and thus instilling a confidence to grow that full array of crops, with no fear that a market glut or a new farm showing up on the scene, would squeeze us out of a market…. Let alone that our restaurants may very well require much less of us this year.
Segue to that elephant in the corner… the one wearing the mask and rubber gloves… the one that has kinda taken over all our lives….
Our farm has practiced every possible degree of safety protocol we could think of, and as general public health standards have finally begun to be settled upon, we have been ahead of the curve the entire time. Food from us comes with the same pledge we have given since the first corona virus case was confirmed in Maine:
Our family has isolated since that same day (March 12th) and when any of us have left the farm, we wear gloves, a mask, and we sanitize our hands. We have visited and socialized with no one (Frowny emoticon).
4 of our employees live here in employee housing, and follow the same protocol.
Our 5 th employee has been with us since last year, and is also isolated at home with his partner, and takes all protocol as seriously as we do.
On the farm, everyone washes their hands throughout the day, and wears gloves and mask during any food handling.
We pack everything into a closed container in our sanitized pack area, and that’s it, until you take it out.
Nothing that arrives on the farm, is allowed into use for 3 days.
No one that comes to the farm may touch anything, and no one is allowed in our wash station, in our greenhouses, or in our walk in coolers.
When you join our CSA you know that the vegetable portion of your weekly diet, is covered, and that there’s no phone call or on line platform to log into, no line to wait in, and no wondering how many folks have touched it.
Please do join us for the next 20 weeks. We have over half an acre of greenhouses, so besides being early on all the spring favorites, we also do LOTS of tomatoes peppers eggplants and ginger in these tunnels, and you will get first dibs on all these items. We grow on about 10 acres outdoors, and grow the whole array of vegetables that grow in Maine. Cucumbers, peppers, squash, lettuce, tomatoes, garlic, peas beans…We generally have carrots and beets year round, if not parsnips and turnips as well. Onions and garlic come along mid summer, and ginger will be the big treat right at the end…
We were fortunate enough to receive the PPP loan (the SBA payroll loan) which emboldened us to actually carry on in the scale that we’d hoped to , before corona. With you guys on board, we can carry on growing awesome Maine produce, not just organically (certified by MOFGA) but also regeneratively. We’re very proud of our growing practices, and hope that sometime when things normalize, you all will be able to come and witness it all.
We all need farmers to be able to grow all the food they possibly can. Too many farms are busy scaling back, and it’s a frightening prospect to imagine “harvest time” when all the farms, have done less than the year before….
$600 gets you 20 weeks of a $37.50 value, “family share”. This share will have between 10 and 12 items a week, and will feed 2 hard core veg eaters, or a family of 4 or 5 for a week. Also, consider splitting this share , with a friend neighbor or family member.
$400 gets you 20 weeks of a $23 value, “half share”. The discount is less because of administration pack delivery and logistics being the same as a full share. But for those less inclined to splurge on the “whole 9”, this is still a great option to get your feet wet with CSA, or for maybe just one person, or a couple who don’t want to feel in over their head with veg. This box will have between 5 and 6 items a week.
For those of you who have been with us since March, the share you have been getting would have been about half way between these two options, so use that as your guide, when choosing an amount to subscribe to.
This is a take what ya get CSA model.
Pick up will be Wednesdays at the farm from 3:00 to 6:00.
The 20 week period is firm. At the end of it, will we launch a fall through New Year’s share.
We can not put a “hold” on a share, or refund any week’s share. If you can not pick up your share, or don’t want it, please arrange for some one else to come and get it… consider it a gift to them (there must be someone!).
We can not guarantee any one particular crop or another. Things fail. However typically when one crop performs poorly, another does spectacularly, and such is life… So get with the seasons, and know we’re doing our best.
We ask for full payment by June 10th.
If you haven’t noticed, we are sort of technologically naive… and branding wise… we don’t exist. Hence the nature of this CSA style. We are a family, that farms, and with every bit of our passion and sincerity we can muster, we just want to grow you food.
Please share this with any and all folks you think may be interested in a CSA. We don’t have very much ability to reach out or advertise ourselves.
I hope to one day know everyone of you , and learn your first and last names. For now, this email and all our social distancing, is the trade off for safety. Thanks for believing in that ideal.
Go Maine!!!
Wanting to help…. we signed up for a full share this summer and are going to split it with another neighbor.
The first week’s haul was a beautiful assortment that screamed  “Salads for dinner!”
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Spinach, mixed greens, scallions, pea sprouts, and a giant head of butterhead lettuce.
There were also a few funky carrots.

 

Which were almost too beautiful to eat.

The chard and kohlrabi… neither of which we like, went home with the neighbor.
And finally, the horrible and ever present kale was given to the woodchucks.

Who wouldn’t eat it either.
Dumb rodent?
Apparently not.

 

A visitor and a test drive.

 

As the husband was laying tar paper on the roof of the baby barn the other day, our farming neighbor dropped by to say hello on one of his toys.

 

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Clearly my husband is not the only one who likes old and rusty things.

 

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I have to laugh at how comfortable the husband looked up on the roof.

Give him a beer and a snack and he could happily watch the game from there.

 

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Neighbor’s 2 year old son is a cutie and loves going for a ride with dad.

That being said…

 

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You know husband had to take a ride himself.

 

 

 

And I can only hope our neighbor never wants to sell the damn thing…

 

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Because you know where it would probably end up.

 

Colors and critters.

 

Looking across the street to our neighbor’s organic vegetable farm is always interesting.

 

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But this time of year, it’s downright beautiful.

 

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Who knew artichokes could be so pretty?

And when our neighbor has wood chips delivered….

 

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HE HAS WOODCHIPS DELIVERED.

 

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When you’re a farmer’s child?

You don’t need no stinkin’ sandbox.

 

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On the critter front,

 

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We’re down to one lone woodchuck.

 

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He’s still fat…

 

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And still clumsy…

 

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And still hangs out on our deck once in a while. But it’s autumn, and all his brothers and sisters are finding dens and getting ready for winter. I doubt even this one will be here much longer.

Sigh…

 

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Autumn also means the deer are changing into their darker winter coats. One summer coated hold out is on the right for comparison.

 

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A murder of crows have now discovered our bird bath.

Why are they called a murder?

The Oxford English Dictionary suggests this is an allusion to the crow’s traditional association with violent death or its harsh and raucous cry.  If you’ve ever heard dozens of agitated crows in full cry, it really does sound as if they’re yelling bloody murder.

As long as they don’t murder me in my sleep, I don’t care what you call them.

 

 

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Uh oh.

 

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And finally, we have a new skunk in town.

 

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I admit I never really paid attention to skunk tails before, but we’ve had so many different families this year I’ve gotten to recognize them by their individual patterns.

This is Tippy.

 

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Brilliantly named for the white tip on her tail.

Is she really a she?

I neither know, nor care to get close enough to find out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I admit, it made me look.

 

I walked by my window the other day and had to do a double take.

Across the road on our neighbor’s organic vegetable farm, the seasonal workers were weeding a garden patch. Most summers there are Mexican field hands, but because of the new immigration policies of He Who Will Remain Nameless… this year the workers are Jamaican.

 

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Now, I’ve never been to Jamaica.

 

 

But I’m going to go out on a limb here…

 

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And say this isn’t their new fashion trend.

 

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Yes, that is what you think it is.

 

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Cardboard.

 

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With a hole in the middle for your head.

 

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I particularly like the fact that he flipped up the cut out hole section.. and left it there. Like a pot lid.

 

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Jamaican cardboard hats.

Coming to a mall near you?

 

 

Remember… you saw it here first.

The great goat escape.

 

Yes, we who live in the country are easily amused.

 

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A few weeks ago as I was doing dishes, I saw one of our neighbor’s goats on the run…. with their daughters hot on it’s heels.

 

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It was a grand chase.

 

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And went on long enough for me to photograph it.

 

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Don’t think goats can run?

Try chasing one.

 

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One daughter managed to steer it closer to the outbuildings…

And viola… the take down.

 

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Country goats.

Because city people don’t know what to do with them…

 

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Dragons on the other hand…

 

Bwaahaahaa!

I bought a book.

 

No, that isn’t news.

I’m an avid reader and am probably personally responsible for Jeff Bezos’s ranking on the Fortune 500.

 

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But this book was special.

 

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As you may know, I have a fondness for chickens.

It started years ago when our farming neighbor moved in across the street and asked us to baby chicken sit.

Matter of fact, here’s a picture of the husband trying to speak to those first chickens.

 

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As you can see, it didn’t go well. The chickens weren’t paying attention.

Were his conversational skills severely lacking…

Or did he just not speak their language?

The chickens might have been saying all kinds of fascinating things!

 

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Or not.

The point is we didn’t know.

And as the flocks grew larger…

 

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We made friends…

 

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But the language barrier was problematic.

My pathetic attempts at cooing were for naught.

 

 

Clearly the birds had something to say.

Possibly deep, philosophical things….

 

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But we couldn’t decipher it.

Until now.

 

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So join me on the journey.

 

 

And we’ll explore these topics.

 

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Admit it.

There have been times you’ve wanted to chat up a chicken too.

 

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It will be fun…

 

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Day 6, and we travel back in time.

 

 

Well, not really. We didn’t have a Tardis…

 

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But we did drive over to Connecticut so the husband could revisit his boyhood home.

 

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He was born in Maine, but the family ( 9 kids! He’s #2 ) moved when he was 8 years old.

 

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The town is very rural, and famous for it’s covered bridge.

 

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Which we always have to drive through, just because.

 

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Everything about the place is quaint, and quintessentially New England.

 

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This….

 

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Was quite literally my husband’s backyard growing up.

 

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Yes, all of it.

 

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He grew up on a farm which encompassed the entire valley, at the base of Coltsfoot Mountain.

 

 

I have no idea how many acres it was, but you can imagine when his mother told them to go outside and play…. she didn’t see them for a while.

The house and barn are at the end of this next video.

 

 

Back in the husband’s day there were 3 large barns, and many large cows. But being a dairy farm, you’d expect that.

 

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There were probably many large cow pies as well.

 

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No, not that kind.

 

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Reminiscing finished, we headed back into “town” to look for some lunch.

 

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Being the giant metropolis that it is, there was only choice… and it was shut up tighter than the proverbial drum.

Someone told us it went out of business, but that’s the husband peering anxiously through the windows.

I tend to get cranky when hungry and clearly he was desperate.