Archive for the ‘Farming’ Category

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.

Urban Chickens

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The Portland Phoenix checks in on one family raising chickens in the city and gets some advice from Stacey Collins who teaches new chicken owners on how to do it right.

It’s been two years since Portland permitted city dwellers to raise a maximum of six egg-laying chickens. To date, 21 licenses have been issued for a $25 yearly fee. “I’m surprised more people don’t have chickens,” says Moger. “It’s been a fairly seamless integration into our lives and it’s not a huge amount of work.” The family built a coop against the back wall of their garage and cut a small hole leading to a fenced-in area in their backyard. The chickens come out of the coop in the morning, the family collects eggs, scoops out the coop, makes sure “the ladies” have enough water and grain, and puts them back in at night.

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.