Archive for the ‘Farming’ Category

North Star Sheep Farm

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes an article about North Star Sheep Farm in Windham. North Star provides lamb to several local restaurants as well as to Whole Foods.

The thin line of animals marching in single file is part of a larger flock of 500 to 600 that Webster and his wife, Lisa, keep here on about 650 acres of leased land that is just steps away from the country’s first woolen mill. The sheep that grazed here during the American Revolution provided the wool blankets that kept patriots warm.

Soon, this pastureland may once again be filled with these gentle creatures and the distant sound of their soft bleating.

Local Hop Farm, Reviews of Mellen Street Market and Congress Bar & Grill, Lobster Dinner Math

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Today’s Press Herald includes a bar review of Congress Bar & Grill,

The menus were tucked in between condiments in round tins on the bar. Specialty drinks range from the house-made sangria for $6 to the “JD Rita,” the bar’s spin on a margarita, for $12. There are eight beers on tap for $4 or $5 apiece, and a number offered by the bottle for $2 to $4. There’s also a selection of white, red and pink wines costing $5 to $7.

and a review of Mellen Street Market.

I ordered a steak-and-cheese with green peppers and onions for $6.49, which I thought was a fair price. The bun was chewy, the veggies were freshly grilled, and American cheese embedded underneath the meat melted into a favorable gooey mix.

The steak? Eh. So-so. It was very chewy, which disappointed me. But it was mostly chunky and not cut into strips, so it was easy to eat.

Also in today’s paper is an article about Rock Island Hop Farm in Springvale which raises hops for Sebago Brewing Bunker Brewing, and a detailed explanation from the President of the Maine Restaurant Association on what factors go into the price of a lobster dinner.

Calculating the average lobster cost at $4.25 per pound, a 1.25-pound lobster means a $5.31 raw lobster food cost for a typically served one and a quarter pound lobster. Add drawn butter, side salad or fries and a roll and you arrive at a total food cost of $6.815. This would result in a retail price of $20.63 for the meal, with a 33 percent food cost. All of that retail price except for $1.03 (5 percent profit) goes to pay the business overhead.

Out on a Limb Apple CSA

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

For the fourth year running, apple expert extraordinaire John Bunker, is offering shares in Out on a Limb, a rare apple CSA. Shareholders will receive 5 deliveries of apples every other week starting in September of approximately a quarter bushel each. The CSA will “be offering a wide assortment of endangered, historical and just plain unusual eating and cooking apples, including some that we’ve never offered before.”

Shares are $125. This year Out on a Limb is expanding beyond just Portland to offer pick-up spots in Waterville, Freedom, Belfast and Mount Desert Island. For more information and details on how to sign-up, read the CSA’s FAQ.

Strong Blueberry Crop

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Today’s Press Herald reports on this year’s blueberry harvest.

Maine’s wild blueberry growers are expecting their biggest crop in more than a decade.

This year’s crop is projected to come in between 90 million to 95 million pounds, with the monthlong harvest kicking into gear the first week of August. If the yield reaches 90 million pounds, it would be the largest harvest since 2000, when production reached a record 110 million pounds.

Farms Adapting to Changing Weather Patterns

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

The Forecaster contains a report on how farms in Cape Elizabeth are responding to changes in Maine weather patterns.

On one end, the spring is lasting longer, [farmer Penny Jordan] said, and on the other, the snow is coming early, in October and November. This has forced her farm to learn how to adapt quickly to the changing climate.

“I know what the normal used to be, but that no longer seems to apply. You have to respond in the moment,” Jordan said. “It becomes even more important to respond to that moment because you don’t know if you’re going to have another moment.”

Blueberry Season

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes a report on this year’s blueberry harvest and some recipes for putting the blue fruit to use,

Allen Crabtree of Crabtree’s Blueberries in Sebago has a bumper crop of highbush blueberries this year as well.

“I have never seen so many blueberries,” Crabtree said. “We’ve had a pick-your-own operation since 2001, and this is by far the best crop we have had, the most berries on the bushes.”

The Food & Dining section also has a list of blueberry festivals across the state and a directory of pick-your-own blueberry farms.

There’s also a very interesting article on how farmers are trying to attract wild pollinators to to assist with the blueberry crop.

“It looks like a bee, but it’s the size of a housefly,” he said.

But size doesn’t matter when it comes to this hard-working, native pollinator, he said. “They’re about four to five times more effective as spring-season pollinators than honey bees,” said Van Horn, who has tended the organic blueberry fields for more than 35 years.

23rd Annual Open Farm Day

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

The 23rd Annual Open Farm Day takes places today at dozens of farms across the state and 13 here in Cumberland County. A list of all participating farms and the activities they’re hosting is available online (starts page 5).

Selling During a Short Season

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

This week’s Portland Phoenix reviews methods used by local farmers to market and sell their products.

With a limited growing season and high demand for local food, Maine farmers have a short window of time to get their products to the public. While farmers’ markets and community-supported agriculture plans (CSAs) are popular, it can be difficult for vegetable farmers to stand out among their peers. Some have found that teamwork, creativity, and technology can attract more customers and help boost sales among existing ones.

Review of Mom’s Cafe & Farmers Impacted by Unusual Weather

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

The Press Herald has published a review of Mom’s Cafe.

There’s a lot of secret little places around Portland that hungry office workers know about but are hidden from the general public. The cafe in city hall used to be one of those places, but it’s now gotten enough ink that it can no longer be considered a secret.

Mom’s Cafe is another one of those places.

Also in today’s paper is an article about how this year’s highly variable weather is impacting Maine farmers.

It started in March with temperatures that soared into the 70s and 80s, dipped to freezing levels in April and was followed by heavy rain in May and June.

The National Weather Service in Gray recorded 11.03 inches of rain in June, almost 7 inches above average.

Summer Picnic & Organic Corn

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

The Food and Dining section in today’s paper includes a caution about the introduction of genetically modified sweet corn in Maine and guidance on where to locate organic/non-GMO sweet corn.

This summer marks the first time that Monsanto’s Bt sweet corn has been approved for planting in Maine. Unlike genetically modified field corn, which farmers in Maine and across the country have been growing for years as livestock feed, sweet corn is intended for human consumption.

The Food and Dining section also includes advice and recipes from local chefs and food purveyors in putting together your Summer picnic basket.

Strawberries Squared & Kids Gone Raw

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald has an article on strawberries which includes recipes from 3 Portland chefs, a guide to farms where you can pick your own strawberries, details strawberry dishes on the menu at local restaurants, a calendar of strawberry festivals in Maine and info on a strawberry jam making class taught by Kate McCarty.

“My advice to people is to get out a little earlier this year to get what you want, and certainly call the farmer ahead of time to see how things are going,” David Handley, a small-fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, said in an interview after last week’s stretch of hot weather. “I’ve been out in the fields for the last couple of days, and I’ve been amazed how two days of temperatures approaching the 90s will ripen strawberries so quickly.”

The season started a little early as well, anywhere from a week ahead of schedule to just a day or two, depending on the location of the farm.

Also in today’s paper is an article about Kids Gone Raw,

Sensing an opportunity, Knowles quickly contacted her friend Elizabeth Fraser, who runs the Girl Gone Raw cooking school in Portland. Over lunch at Local Sprouts Cooperative Cafe, the two came up with the idea of a raw foods cookbook filled with kid-friendly recipes.

The book is now written and the pair is in the process of determining which publisher they want to work with…In the meantime, the two are busy creating a line of raw vegan foods for children, making appearances at events and teaching classes.


Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

NPR’s food blog, The Salt, has published an article about MOOMilk.

Now, things are looking up, albeit modestly. MOOMilk has been picked up by Whole Foods and Hannaford’s, as well as by a swath of small purveyors across northern New England. Even with demand for organic milk booming, though, the cooperative is struggling to push past 5,000 gallons in weekly sales.

Phoenix Proposal for Farmers Market

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

The Portland Phoenix has proposed a system for ranking applicants for open slots at the farmers market.

The idea would be that, upon the opening of a slot at one of the markets, every applicant would be scored according to this chart (or whatever this chart is revised into). The highest-scoring vendor would be first admitted. If there were more than one slot available, then the slots would be assigned based on score.

Farmers Market Participation

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

About Town has examined the current process and potential changes to the way new vendors are selected for the Portland Farmers Market.

The present system is a quasi-informal one governed jointly by the city clerk’s office and the Portland Farmers’ Market Association, in which the city individually licenses vendors to sell their items, but with the number of vendors and the diversity of their products determined internally by the association – including voting on who gets to join the market when spaces become available.

Carmen at the Danforth, Maine Organic Seed Industry

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

The Food & Dining section in today’s paper includes an article about chef Carmen Gonzalez and the new restaurant she’s opening this Spring at the Danforth Inn,

“Carmen at The Danforth,” scheduled to open in mid- to late May, will be something really different for Portland – a small, 40-seat boutique restaurant inside an historic inn that has a celebrity chef in command of the kitchen full-time.

The summer menu has just been completed, and is heavy on Maine seafood served with a Latin twist.

and an article about the Maine organic seed industry.

Maine is home to five certified organic seed companies, and some are seeing signs of economic recovery in this season’s sales.

“I think people were more comfortable economically this year,” said Gene Frey, who works at Fedco Seeds in Clinton.