Archive for the ‘Farming’ Category

Maine Farming & Looking Past the Pancake

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

An article in the Food & Dining section of today’s Press Herald looks past the pancake at cocktail and other drink ideas that incorporate maple syrup,

We usually run stories on how the season is going and share ideas for what you can do with all that springtime sweetness besides pour it over pancakes and ice cream. This year, inspired by a maple latte from Arabica, I decided to take a look at maple drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

and the Natural Foodie column exams how Maine’s growing network of small farms creates a better food system for the state.

According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Maine is home to 8,100 farms, and more than 90 percent of them are classified as small operations. Maine is also ahead of the curve in the organic farming movement, with the number of certified farms doubling between 2006 and 2008, the latest years for which the USDA’s figures are available.

Chef’s Favorite Things & Loans for Farms

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

The Press Herald asked 20  Maine chefs to share their favorite, thing, idea or technique from the past year, and have compiled the results in today’s paper.

The newest technique that I have found to be very helpful in the kitchen is using my food processor in some of our charcuterie processes. Before I read about this technique, I relied solely on my meat grinder for processing meats, which works great for coarse, country-style sausages and pates. But when I want to make something a little more refined, with a smooth, delicate texture, I will grind the meat first and then use the food processor to finish the process. Doing this helps me to make beautiful mortadella, which has become a favorite on our daily charcuterie board.

– Peter Sueltenfuss, chef, District, Portland

Also in today’s paper is an article about the No Small Potatoes Investment Club which provides low interest loans to farmers.

So far, the group has made three loans. In addition to the Thirty Acre Farm loan, the club has loaned money to Heiwa Tofu in Camden and Lalibela Farm in Dresden.

“I love aligning my beliefs with my investments,” said Eleanor Kinney of Bremen, another founding club member. “This is a different model than having stock in companies that make products which I’d never feed my children.”

Winter Farming on Maine Watch

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

Winter Farming in Maine was the focus of this week’s edition on Maine Watch. You can watch the full show on the MPBN website. Host Jennifer Rooks interviewed,

Eliot Coleman of Harborside, Lisa and Ralph Turner of Laughing Stock Farm in Freeport, Paul Lorrain of Sunset Farm Organics in Lyman and Russell Libby from the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association

Farmland and Organic Acres

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

MPBN has reported on two announcements made at this year’s Maine Agricultural Trades Convention. MOFGA set a goal to double the number of organic farms in Maine over the next 5 years and bring the percentage of organic acreage up to 10%,

MOFGA commissioned a study based on statistics from the 2007 Census of Agriculture, and among other things, it found that Maine has one of the largest collections of organic farms in the nation. Still, admits Libby, they’re a small part of the agricultural landscape in Maine. Organic farms account for roughly seven percent, respectively, of the state’s overall farming acreage, assets and gross revenue.

and the Maine Farmland Trust has…

launched a campaign to preserve 100,000 acres of farmland throughout the state by 2014. The initiative, announced this morning at the annual state farm show in Augusta, was prompted by concerns that much of Maine’s farmland will be in transition in the next 10 to 15 years as aging farmers sell off their farms or die.

For additional reporting on these announcements read this Press Herald article.

Oakhurst Dairy, Who Owns Organic, Ending the Currant Ban, Overfishing Ends

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Also in today’s paper were articles about Oakhurst Dairy and the Bennett family who have run the business since it started in 1921,

“We have been able to stave off being bought by maintaining a strong brand identity. People know what we do and what we stand for,” Oakhurst President and Chief Operating Officer William Bennett said during a tour this week of the Oakhurst production plant on Forest Avenue.

reports on the effort to repeal the ban on growing currants in Maine, and on organic programming at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show,

Lisa Fernandes of Cape Elizabeth, who leads the Portland Permaculture Meetup, is coordinating the effort to get an old Maine law banning Ribes plants repealed. The law was enacted decades ago in an effort to control white pine blister rust, a plant disease that requires both pines and Ribes plants to persist.

and on statements made by the former chief scientist of NOAA’s Fisheries Service that overfishing will end this year,

The projected end of overfishing comes during a turbulent fishing year that has seen New England fishermen switch to a radically new management system. But scientist Steve Murawski said that for the first time in written fishing history, which goes back to 1900, “As far as we know, we’ve hit the right levels, which is a milestone.”

Online Winter Market in Cape & South Portland

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Today’s Press Herald reports on a Winter market being organized by a group of farms in Cape Elizabeth called Cape SoPo Winter Share.

The new venture isn’t run like traditional community-supported agriculture, in which customers buy shares of a farm’s crop in advance. Instead, customers shop online without any long-term commitment for the season. They can place orders for any two-week cycle, choosing the types and quantities of items they want.

You can sign-up for their email distribution list online and also find them on Facebook.

Barber Foods, From the Land, Linda Bean

Sunday, December 12th, 2010

The Maine Sunday Telegram includes a Q+A with the Executive Director of the Maine Farmland Trust about their new book From the Land: Maine Farmers at Work,

Q: How did this book come about?
A: The idea grew out of the photos. We had a need for the organization to do some basic photography to document some of the work we were doing on different farms. We engaged Bridget for that project, and had no idea that it would develop into something more extensive. We were really impressed with the quality of the photos, and that led to a showing. We have a small gallery at our headquarters, and we have shown the photos there and at a few other places, the Frontier at Brunswick and the statehouse. And that led to the idea of a book. It really was an evolution rather than a plan.

a pair of articles about Barber Foods and the family that has run the business since its founding in 1955,

From here, the Portland-based company, launched 55 years ago from the back of a truck, cooks up 900,000 pounds of frozen prepared food every week, fighting for market share in the $31.7 billion frozen food industry and the roughly $20 billion food service industry. Barber competes with such mega corporations as Tyson Foods, Perdue and ConAgra Foods.

and a business profile of Linda Bean,

Bean spent her first year in the business learning everything Albano could teach her. Today, she said she depends heavily on CEO John Peterdorf’s knowledge of the lobster market. But she is very hands-on in other aspects of the business. She works the crowds at trade shows, dollops lobster into rolls at country fairs and studies the fine print in all her business contracts.

“the best growing year I have had for 30 years”

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

The Maine Sunday Telegram interviewed farmers about the 2010 growing season.

“The sun made great crops. I have been doing this for 30 years and this is the best growing year I have had for 30 years,” said Dick Fowler, who raises 20 different crops on about 20 acres at Pleasant Hill Gardens in Scarborough.

The Business of Farming

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

Charles Lawton’s column in today’s Maine Sunday Telegram takes a look at the business side of farming in Maine.

In 2008, the total value of crop and livestock sales, government payments and the value of products consumed on the farm by their owners amounted to approximately $750 million for all Maine farms. Deducting production expenses and declining inventory values left net income of approximately $106 million.

Of this, approximately $40 million derived from corporate farms, and the remaining $66 million from sole proprietorships and partnerships. According to Bureau of Economic Analysis data, this income supported just over 7,200 farm proprietors.

MooMilk

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

MooMilk, the Maine-based organic milk company, is scaling back operations, according to a report in the Bangor Daily News.

MOOMilk, which stands for Maine’s Own Organic Milk, processed milk Wednesday but will suspend production Sunday on skim and 1 percent milk, as a variety of reasons have combined to force the business toward closure. The company’s cash flow is so low that it can only purchase 2 percent and whole milk cartons.

“We are out of money,” David Bright, MOOMilk’s secretary and one of its founders, said this week.

News Update: Portland Press Herald reports they will be staying open after “a number of individuals and foundations have provided enough money to enable the company to sell its product to two Maine food banks.”

Rare Apples in the Sun

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Today’s edition of the Portland Daily Sun reports on Out on a Limb, a rare apple CSA that’s starting its second year this Fall.

The Rare Apple CSA took root at Super Chilly Farm in Palermo, where “John Bunker and Cammy Watts grow apples, pears, plums and cherries on Super Chilly Farm in Palermo,” according to their website. “Founded in 1972, the farm’s specialty is a collection of rare and historic apple varieties, at last count well over 200. Many of the varieties originated in Maine, from York County to The County. John and Cammy think of the farm less as a commercial orchard and more as a repository for rare and endangered varieties.”

Maine at Work: Farmer

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Press Herald reporter Ray Routhier spends the day at Snell Family Farm picking squash destined for the Portland Farmers Market in the latest article for his Maine at Work column.

Then, as Snell instructed me, I picked the shriveled blossom off the vegetable and laid the zucchini in a handmade wooden box so it would be “nice and pretty” for customers the next day at farmers markets in Portland and Saco.

Out on a Limb Apple CSA

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

John Bunker and crew are offering their rare apple CSA again this year. Rabelais will be the drop off point. $120 gets you 6 deliveries of 1/4 bushel each. See the Out on a Limb website for details on last year’s fruit.

Smiling Hydroponic Tomatos

Friday, August 6th, 2010

According to a report in the American Journal, Smiling Hill Farm in Westbrook is planning to get into the hydroponic tomato business. (via Westbrook Diarist)

The hydroponic vine-cluster tomatoes Smiling Hill would grow would be red and ripe when they left the greenhouse to go to customers in Maine and places like Boston and New York. But they would be “green” in the sense that they would be grown in an environmentally friendly way, according to Warren Knight, president of Smiling Hill.

Permaculture Interview

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

The Tuesday Portland Daily Sun includes an interview with Lisa Fernandes about her approach to permaculture.

Me: Are you trying to get off the grid completely?
Fernandes: It’s not our goal to be homesteaders in the city. I don’t think that doing things completely independently is an attractive or reasonable goal. But we do want to be able to withstand the energy challenges in this volatile economy. We plan to grow old here and want a place that will take care of us more than we’ll take care of it. We want it sustainable so that when we’re older there’s no digging or tilling.

Fernandes’s garden is a stop on the Backyard Locavore Tour taking place on August 14.

Tomato Passion Club

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Small Wonder Organics is now selling shares for their Tomato Passion Club CSA. The program will start-up next week on August 11, and Rabelais will be serving as the pick-up point in Portland. CSA members will receive “no less than 36 lbs of organic tomatoes and at least 1 lb basil over six weekly distributions.”

SoPo Eats

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

There have been some new additions to the dining scene in South Portland:

  • Cambridge Coffee Bar and Bakehouse is just across the bridge on Broadway where the Freaky Bean used to be located. It’s owned by Vicki Cambridge who explained to Mainebiz that she, “learned to cook from her grandmother, says she has ‘gained a baking reputation in the community, and having a shop of my own was a logical next step.’ “
  • A new Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Hanoi is giving SoPo pho-fans a way to satisfy their cravings without having to leave their hometown. Where is Jenner’s Mind writes that the pho “certainly rivals the pho at both Thanh Thanh and Saigon”
  • Willard Scoops opened last year and is getting praise for “raises the bar for gourmet ice cream in the Portland area”. Portland Eats writes that he especially “like how some of the ice creams at Willard Scoops use salt to good effect, such as in the chocolate sea salt ice cream and the salt caramel and salt caramel nut ice creams”
  • There’s even someone who’s started raising hops in South Portland.

Fewer Pancakes?

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Mainebiz reports that Maine 2010 maple syrup production was down 22% from last year’s high of 395,000 gallons.

How to Eat Dessert & Monday Farmers Market

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Wednesday’s Portland Daily Sun includes a report on the Monday Farmers Market,

Hopes are high that a new Monday farmers’ market in Monument Square can succeed where others have failed, including an effort last year that fizzled after only one vendor showed up.

This year is doing better, thanks in large part to a market manager being in the right place at the right time.

and a column from Natalie Ladd on her inherited love of dessert which is peppered with recommendations on where to go for a good final (or only) course.

Dessert is a subject I take very seriously, and it requires great restraint for me pass it up. As a diner, it’s often the shining highlight or disappointing deal breaker of any meal. As a restaurant person, it’s a great way to build up the average check by up-selling and padding the check, resulting in more money for house and server.

Local Sprouts Profile & A Wedding Garden

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

The Food & Dining section in today’s Press Herald includes a profile of Local Sprouts Cafe/Bomb Diggity Bakery,

The counter service restaurant is sure to give both ventures a boost. While anyone can walk in and purchase off the menu, those who plan to be regulars may want to consider investing in a community-supported kitchen membership. When members dine at the cafe, their meals are deducted from the paid-in-advance balance, and they receive a 10 percent discount.

and a feature article on a couple in Central Maine that are growing/raising all of the food that will be served their wedding this September.

“But then we also really just like providing for our own needs,” Davis said. “We make our own maple syrup and we brew our own beer and we’ve smoked our own bacon. We cut our own wood. We’re not the kind of people who just sort of sit around. We like to be active and doing things, so we thought this would be a good project for the summer.”

The paper also published a survey of the food and drink to be had at last nights celebration/commiseration parties held by gubernatorial candidates.

Some candidates went frugal – opting to gather in the campaign office and munch on chips – while others spared no expense at posh destinations with lavish drinks and hors d’oeuvres.