Archive for the ‘Farming’ Category

Cheap Eats in Portland & Wild Blueberries

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

This Week’s edition of the Portland Phoenix includes a guide to cheap eats in Portland for the newspaper’s annual student guide,

We know you’re dirt poor. Those textbooks are outrageously expensive and you’re forced to divvy out your remaining dollars on cheap beer and illegal substances. We’ve all been there. However, we wanted to remind you that there are places you can afford to eat in Portland that won’t bankrupt you (any more than those student loans will when you graduate). We even helped you with the math and organized it by how many dollars you have in your pocket. So, give up your tray and check out these places.

and a feature article about Maine’s wild blueberry industry.

Whether scooped by hand-held rakes or gathered mechanically by tractors, Maine’s blueberry crop is expected to be down a bit from the recent annual average of 83 million pounds. All told, Maine accounts for nearly all of America’s wild blueberry production, and is second to Michigan (which grows cultivated varieties) in terms of overall blueberry production in America. The US grows more blueberries than any other country in the world; Canada ranks second.


Monday Market, Tequila & Macrobiotics

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Today’s Press Herald reports on efforts to bring the Monday Farmers Market back to life,

Farmers on the wait list said they won’t come on Mondays because no customers attend. They can’t afford to take time from planting and harvesting to travel downtown and not sell anything. Likewise, customers won’t come on Mondays because no farmers attend.

It’s a self-defeating cycle, but a group of immigrant farmers will soon try to revive the Monday market. Dawud Ummah, president of the Center for African-American Heritage, is coordinating the effort.

an article about tequila featuring staff from Zapoteca,

For a lot of people, sitting in front of a line of three shots of tequila might conjure some flashbacks involving a pinch of salt, a lemon wedge and a pounding headache. But the shots that come in a flight of tequila at Zapoteca, a new Mexican restaurant and tequileria in Portland, are meant to be sipped and savored like a fine single malt Scotch, not downed in one gulp by a drunken college student.

and an article about the macrobiotic diet and the macrobiotic cooking classes at Five Season Cooking School,

The school is run by Lisa Silverman, and it hosts frequent visits from well-known macrobiotic teachers.

Next week, Jessica Porter, a former Portland resident and author of “The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics,” will teach a class at the school. At the end of September, internationally acclaimed macrobiotic educator Warren Kramer will come to the school to offer a lecture and teach a class.

South Portland Yard Becomes Garden for Soup Kitchen

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

Today’s Press Herald includes an article about a South Portland resident who replaced her lawn with a large vegetable garden. Produce from the garden is “distributed among four soup kitchen sites and 42 agencies in Cumberland County.”

[Liberty] Bryer teamed up with Wayside Soup Kitchen to plant a 2,000-square-foot community garden in her yard on Edwards Street, in the Meetinghouse Hill neighborhood.

“That has been part of my hope and intent, that people would realize, yes, they can grow for themselves and for other people,” she said.

Maine at Work: Raking Blueberries

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

For the latest installment of the Press Herald Maine at Work series, reporter Ray Routhier learns how to rake wild blueberries at Hart’s Clary Hill Farm near Union.

Powers runs a blueberry farm that his wife’s family started in the 1930s. The land had originally been a sheep farm, but is now turning out one of Maine’s most iconic crops — wild blueberries.

The challenges to growing blueberries begin with the fact that they are wild, Powers tells me. You don’t plant them, you can’t decide where they’ll grow. This makes weeding or treating them with herbicides tricky. And it makes picking them — on rocky hillsides for instance — tricky as well.

Out on a Limb, Rare Apple CSA

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

The Out on a Limb rare apple CSA run by John Bunker and Cammy Watts is back for a third season. Sign up to receive ” 20 or more varieties of rare, interesting and highly flavored apples that have a wide range of uses, appearances, histories and tastes”. Participants get 5 pick-ups of ¼ bushel each for $120. For more information or to sign-up email

Lobstering Licenses and the Brentwood Farm

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes articles on how Maine regulates who does and does not get a lobster fishing license,

The central question is whether the rules governing lobster licenses should remain as they are — open to residents under age 18 at little cost, but effectively off-limits to almost everyone else — or whether anyone should be allowed to fish as long as he can afford to buy a license from another fisherman who has one.

and an essay by Elizabeth Tarasevich on the Brentwood Farm community garden in Deering.

Last year, neighbors and several local businesses joined to build a beautiful and bountiful urban garden. It includes plots for 65 families, 20 common share beds, community orchards, herb beds and berry patches for all local residents to enjoy.

Miyake Farm & Modern Vegan Chef

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes a feature article on Miyake’s farm in Freeport,

“They get to eat sushi-grade Japanese tuna every day,” says Chad Conley, who manages the farm. “Masa will trim a whole tuna, and there’s pounds and pounds of blood and scraps that can’t be used that normally, before the farm, were just going in the trash.

“But the pigs love it. They eat fish heads. They eat lobster bodies. They eat extra fat that we can’t use. They go crazy for it.”

and an interview with interview with Chris McClay about her personal chef service called Modern Vegan.

“It’s so interesting – nobody’s been vegan yet,” McClay said of the clients for her business, which she launched in April. “I’ve always had the feeling right from the beginning that my service is not for vegans. However, my clients do lean towards vegetarianism.”


Portland Phoenix, The Mushroom Issue

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

This week’s issue of the Portland Phoenix is devoted to all things mushroom. It includes:

Farmers Market, Blueberries & Water

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Today’s Press Herald includes a report on a new credit/debit card/food stamp option at the farmers market,

“It’s something that the farmers have been talking about for the past couple of years,” said Jaime Berhanu of Lalibela Farm in Bowdoinham. “There are probably already five or six of us who take food stamps, and just maybe two or three that do credit cards. It’s one of these things that’s been on the long-term goal list.”

a survey of blueberry-flavored products and list of Southern Maine locations for berry picking,

Blueberries are even more abundant this year, thanks to the loads of new products on grocery shelves that tout them as potent antioxidants. From blueberry juices to dried blueberries in cereals, there are more ways than ever to get your blueberry fix.

This year, I thought it would be fun to look at some ways you can drink your blueberries.

and an article about a Portland firm that provides an alternative to bottled water.

In place of waste-generating and chemical-leaching plastic bottles and jugs, Blue Reserve provides bottle-less water coolers that use a nine-stage, commercial-grade water filtration system.

Tomato CSA

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Small Wonder Organics is offering a 7-week tomato CSA. Rabelais is the pick-up destination for the CSA in Portland. The program starts July 27.

Strawberry O-Rama

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

For the July edition of our collaborative food writing project the group is publishing a celebration of Maine native strawberries. Strawberries are still widely available in Portland at the Farmers Market and other locations like Rosemont. If one of the wonderful recipes below isn’t to your liking then take CW‘s advice and pick up a strawberry pie from Blackbird Baking, or just eat them raw with a little heavy cream (my dessert tonight) or give the smoothies they’re making at the Farmers Market a try. Regardless of AP has to say, don’t let the season pass you by.

Appetite PortlandAnti-Strawberry “Preference”

I grew up with a strawberry-loving mom. She would just shake her head and say, “well, more for me then” while popping a plump red berry in her mouth. It’s not that I hate strawberries. To quote my never-admit-to-not-liking-anything, farm-raised Dad, “I just really don’t prefer them.” read the full article

Chubby WerewolfReview of Memere’s Strawberry Pie

The generously sized strawberry pie—like so many of the desserts I’ve tried from the Blackbird Baking Company of Maine—is a unique and memorable experience. For starters, it is just stunning to look at. Deep red berries sit in stark contrast to the ring of golden crust that encases them. The top of the pie is dotted with huge, whole strawberries, their tiny seeds visible through the thick red glaze, reminding you that you are, in fact, about to eat a dish made with fresh, flavorful ingredients. read the full review

Edible ObsessionsSpring Panna Cotta w/Strawberry Balsamic Jam

In the land known for blueberries, for me, it is the strawberry that has come to represent summer in Maine. I think this is due to the fact that their appearance at the Farmers Markets signals the true beginning of the local produce season. The single hue of greens is finally broken by the brilliant pop of red berries at nearly every stall. read the full article

From AwayGrilled Strawberry Shortcake Kebabs

The use of wooden barbecue skewers isn’t limited to cooking sad little dried-out chunks of beef and pepper; they can also be used to make simple, delicious grilled desserts. And you don’t even have to pre-soak the wooden skewers, because they are on the grill for such a short amount of time. Our grilled “Strawberry Shortcake” kebabs completely change the character of the classic Summertime dish. read the full article

Vrai-lean-uhMemories of (not)Picking Strawberries

So when A. suggest that this month’s O-Rama posts be focused on strawberries I had the wherewithal to reject my gut inclination to go picking strawberries. In theory, I want to pick strawberries. In real life, I want to do leisure activities that do not require me to labor in unrelenting sun, stooped to the ground with sunscreen dripping into my eyes for extended periods of time. Instead, I did what people who want to pick strawberries in theory but not in practice these days do. I went to the farmer’s market. read the full article | hulling strawberries

And Portland fashion/food blogger also couldn’t resist the pull of Maine strawberries in prime season and has also posted a piece about going strawberry picking at Maxwell’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth.

Be sure to check Vrai-lean-uh’s blog later when she’ll be publishing the results of an interview with David Buchanan about his work at Origins Fruit to bring back the Marshall Strawberry.

Island Micro Farm, Farmers Market Delivery Options and Way Way

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

The Food & Dining in today’s Press Herald includes a profile of the Island Micro Farm on Peaks Island,

Located on the back side of Peaks Island down a winding gravel road, the farm is a new enterprise created by resident Mark Shain. But unlike traditional farms where straight rows of tilled soil define the landscape, Shain’s farm follows a permaculture model.

an article about three Farmers Market add-on services that either cook meals for you or deliver groceries to you door,

The concept of eating local foods is already wildly popular here in Maine, but for some people it can still be a challenge. It’s hard to make it to a farmers market on Saturday morning if your kids have a soccer game on the same day. Other people like the idea of eating locally, but they aren’t sure what to do with the food that comes in a CSA share.

Now a couple of local businesses are trying to remove any remaining barriers by making local, seasonal foods even more accessible to the public.

and a report the recently revived Way Way penny candy store in Saco.

SoPo Bees, Meatless Monday, Grilling Veggies, and Berwick Bison

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Today’s Press Herald reports on the bee ordinance in South Portland. Beekeeper Phil Gaven who was interviewed for the article plans on opening “a store in Portland called The Honey Exchange. He will offer local honey, wax products and honey-based food and drink.”

The paper also includes an article about Sebago Brewing’s new Meatless Monday menu,

“We’ve gotten a lot of requests for more healthy, more local and more vegetarian,” said Elise Loschiavo, Sebago’s marketing manager. “It’s not that hard to come up with a few more meatless options.”

advice on grilling vegetables,

Or brush some Brussels sprouts with olive oil and tamari, and toss them on the grill. “Brussels sprouts are excellent on the grill,” [Toni] Fiore said. “I’ve made them for people who don’t like Brussels sprouts, but they like them on the grill. It just adds a different dimension. It’s not so cabbage-y.”

and a report on a pair of friends who are raising Bison in Berwick, Maine.

Strawberries and the Vegetarian Food Festival

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald celebrates the start of the native strawberry season,

“The crop looks really good,” [farmer Bill Bamford] said. “There were a lot of blossoms there earlier, and every blossom turns into a strawberry. Barring some natural disaster, we’re pretty optimistic at this point and hoping we can make a few people happy.”

and provides an overview of this wekend’s Vegetarian Food Festival,

“The food we eat makes us sick over time,” Bell said. “We have pharmaceuticals to get us well. But the bad news is, no one gets well. We just take more pharmaceuticals.”

In his own life, Bell has broken out of the conventional way of thinking and switched from the standard American diet to one based on plants. At Saturday’s festival, he will be surrounded by plenty of other folks who have subverted the dominant food paradigm.

Weather Gives Farms a Slow Start

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

The Portland Daily Sun interview Maine farms about the start of the 2011 growing season.

“It’s a little slower than normal between the cold, too much rain, not enough rain,” said Sarah Bostick, who’s worked for the past six years at Meadowood Farm, a 10-acre tract in Yarmouth.

Bostick, who was selling plants and vegetables yesterday at the Portland Farmer’s Market, admits this year isn’t as bad as two years ago, when damp weather lasted for more than a month, causing some crops to rot in the field.

Locally Grown Package Foods

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

The front page of today’s Press Herald Food & Dining section reports on efforts by Marada and Leah Cook to start up Northern Girl. The new firm will process and package Maine-grown vegetables into convenient formats such as baby carrots and frozen broccoli. The article also looks at the state of food packaging in Maine in general.

“How many of us have had a rutabaga in the fridge forever?” Marada asked. “But a bag of peeled, cut root vegetables wouldn’t last more than a week in the fridge.”

The desire to make the bounty of Maine’s vegetable farms more accessible is one of the motivations for this endeavor.

Urban Beekeeping

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

This week’s Portland Phoenix reports on the rising interest in beekeeping in Portland.

Interest in backyard beekeeping has increased dramatically in the last five years, says MacGregor-Forbes, who teaches three courses through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension program. Off the top of her head, she can think of 25 urban beekeepers in the city of Portland, but there are about 800 beekeepers in Maine who manage a total of 10,000 hives. “Most people keep bees as a way to give back to the environment,” she says. “The bonus is that they get honey.”

Meet Your Farmer

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

The Portland Daily Sun interviewed the creators of Meet Your Farmer.

Debuting on Maine Public Broadcasting network on Thursday, May 19, “Meet Your Farmer” is a co-production of Pull Start Pictures and The Maine Farmland Trust and offers a series of eight short profiles of farms in Maine.

“The Maine Farmland Trust wants to help every aspect of agriculture, but the mission of the [film] is to try to profile a bunch of different types of farming in the state, and look at the diversity of agriculture in Maine,” said Jason Mann of Pull-Start Pictures.

Food Freedom

Saturday, May 7th, 2011

The cover story in this week’s Portland Phoenix reports on the struggle of local Maine farmers to break free from federal and state food rules that were written for industrial agriculture.

“From farm to table” isn’t just a meaningless foodie slogan anymore. It’s the rallying cry for the smallest of small-scale farming operations in Maine, which are fighting against what they consider to be burdensome state and federal regulations. In the process, they’re laying the groundwork for a nationwide “food sovereignty” movement, aimed at restoring the direct relationship between food producers and consumers, while reducing government interference in local food systems.

The Changing Face of Maine Farming

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

The latest issue of Mainebiz reports on the changing face of farming in Maine,

Younger farmers like Brenner and Bliss are invigorating Maine’s agriculture industry, riding a societal shift toward locally sourced goods that has made farming a viable enterprise even for those lacking land and generational expertise. The average Maine farmer is 56.4 years old, hardly a spring chicken but ranking the state a decent 17th in the nation (between Wisconsin and Indiana’s youthful 55 years and last place New Mexico’s comparatively old 59.6), according to 2007 USDA census figures, the most recent available. The age is lower among Maine’s organic farmers, who average 52 years old.