Friday, March 28, 2014

Eggs and Milk

If there is anything I have learned since we've been farming its the cycle of boom and bust. Right now, our milk cups runneth over and our egg quota is met at breakfast, lunch and ....well sometimes at dinner too.

John's sister Layne is a lobsterman (pronounced "lobstermin" to blur the gender designation). And she likes to keep a jar of pickled eggs on her boat for long trip out to sea hauling traps. She inspired John to make a batch for long trips across the brassica field dragging discs. This surf and turf brother sister team....all that money their parent's spent on liberal art's educations only to find they have 2 very smart, thoughtful and wise blue collar children conversing over a holiday table about pickled eggs and the politics of working farms and waterfronts in Maine. People will do what it takes to live in Maine (whose population is declining), amongst the trees and the ocean and the mountains, far from rush hour traffic.

Things are still pretty frozen here. At dinner the other night I commenced a moratorium on complaining about the weather. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it but wait, cultivating our patience. For the first time in 13 years we told our crew they would need to hold off on starting. There just isn't enough for them to work on with 2 feet of snow still blanketing some spots of the farm. Normally, the first week of April we are spreading composts and prepping beds. The greenhouse is bursting with seedlings in anticipation but the tractor sits still as the long winter lingers.

With all this "extra" time, we're pickling eggs, drinking milk, making custard, baking quiche and wondering what we might do with the collection of tongues in our freezer. Seems as if we have amassed a few from the livestock that have come and gone at the farm. The bacon and the chops and the roasts seem to move quickly but no brave souls have reached for the tongues. I've heard it can be tasty. I'm waiting for the inspired cook to come along and have a go at it. I'm up for a taste.

We are signing up campers for the summer, preschoolers and homeschoolers for our spring programs. April vacation camp still has some spots. And, there are CSA shares still available. It's hard to believe we'll be harvesting lettuce and peonies for our customers in 2 months. I can hardly wait!

We're still uncertain as to the shelf life of a pickled egg, leaving lots of speculation and fun lunchtime chatter. And, seriously....if you're up for cooking a tongue, I have 4. How funny would it be to do a tongue giveaway? Ha!.....Let's try it! Leave a comment in the comments section if you want one! Beef or pork. (This is what you might call a spontaneous brainstorm)

Blessings on the meal-

PS.... I just had to throw some winter flowering in here....there's just not a good picture of a frozen tongue to be had in these parts.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Greenhouse Snow Day

We are up and running after a few setbacks with frozen pipes and busted heat exchangers. But now, the train has left the station for the season. It's exciting, scary and hopeful all at the same time. But, when the first round of seedlings sprouts, we always feel rebooted. Oh yes, this is what we do, we engage with the wonder of life, the cycle of weather and seasons. We're going to do this farming thing for another season. It feels so good to get outside.

We drink tons of tea to keep the mojo going. And, when we run into the house to use the bathroom or grab a seed packet, it's hard not to feel jealous of the cats napping on the sheepskin next to the woodstove. Don't they have work to do?

The annual theme to the end of winter and start of spring seems to be hurry up and wait...for seeds to germinate and snow to melt and mud to dry.

We're all pretty over it, the snow. Even the 4 roosters. Some of the sexed chicks from last spring ended up as roosters. They all seem to be getting along so far. The biggest problem is they each crow at a different time of the day, making the racket a relatively sustained experience from about 4AM until just after dark.

The good news is the newer birds are laying in earnest and custard and quiche are back on the table. 

Mark your calendar for May 3, 1PM to 4PM for our annual spring open house. This year we have Bennet and Edith coming again to play music and a special food truck surprise in the wings to keep everyone's blood sugar up while we dance the Maypole. Looking forward to blessing the fields with the help of friends and family and neighbors alike.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Changing and Rearranging

I'm one of those people who like to move the furniture around from time to time. And, for some reason, cabin fever perhaps, we decided that I ought to move our virtual furniture around and give our website a redo. Oh my gosh....I am beyond bleary eyed. Checking links, looking at formatting on different browsers....Mac, PC, iPhone. Phew. This website work is for real.
Our gardening neighbors who dabble in raising their own food come to us with demure comments, like "yeah, the tomatoes did well this year; we got some chickens this summer; looking forward to putting in our fruit trees in our backyard..." Now we feel like the table has turned and I'm going up to our web developer friends, "yeah, we're getting good web traffic; the drop-down menus are really good this year; oh, we are looking forward to embedding some shopping cart functionalities in back-end." (I'm not sure what that really means).

Every few years when we make a major shift in the website, I realize how colossal (in the small business kind of way) our little business has become.
And, in launching our new site, we are also launching our newest employee, Kristie Green. Kristie comes to us with THE BEST gelato recipe in her back pocket as the founder of Maple's Organics. She has a mountain of skills in small business development, as well as experience from a prior career-- education in the classroom. Since moving on from the business of deliciousness, she helped the Long Barn Educational Initiative get off the ground. Now (most exciting for us) she is taking on the role of Education Director here at Broadturn Farm. She will manage all the day-to-day operations of all things educational, including summer camp, April Vacation Camp, and our PreSchool and Homeschool programs. Kristie is also excited to strengthen our partnerships with local schools, building on her experience as a teacher in the local districts. We are over the moon to have her! And, we are PUMPED to have some farm fresh gelato at camp this summer with our new resident frozen dairy specialist, I mean education director.

So....with that, I give you the launch of our new site, the start of summer camp sign-up and another day in the polar vortex.

Blessings on the Meal,

Monday, February 17, 2014


Last year I decided to finally stop mooching off of some else's New Yorker magazine subscription. My family and friends have been generous and patient with my frugal nature, but I decided to go ahead and sign-up anyway. The magazine now arrives weekly. I get a good update on current events (Talk of the Town), a peek into big city dining to see what's hot in the food world, and then on into the meat of the magazine with investigative reporting and in-depth analysis. I relish it. Even though the majority of articles are great, I always skip over some stuff. Out of ten articles, I'd say I  read all but two or three. As I said before, I am a frugal person; sixty bucks a year is hard earned. Well worth it though. Especially Micheal Pollen's latest article about plant "behavior"; I sink my teeth right into that one.
After the last CSA harvest last year we asked people for feedback. The response was very positive-- lots of glowing comments about interesting varieties of vegetables, freshness, and overall value. There was some constructive criticism too. Generally, people have vegetable preferences, favorites and not so favorites. People whose aversion to beets was not conquered by our once a month harvests.
This is how they sell beets in Ecuador-- wrapped in banana leaves.
Once I started subscribing to the New Yorker, I started thinking more about the CSA as a subscription. We don't expect everyone to love every vegetable we give out. Just as the editor of the New Yorker doesn't expect me to read every article. Some articles just don't interest me, like the beets for some of our CSA subscribers. The New Yorker will not convince me that opera is all that interesting. Once in a great while I actually think the quality of writing in the New Yorker is lacking-- an overly glowing appraisal of some actor... I would hope that the quality of our vegetables is unsurpassed is all respects, but I'll let you know when that perfect bug-free season arrives. We certainly aim high and try our best. In the meantime, we hope you join the CSA for another season. Every year we improve, every vegetable is grown using the best organic practices we know, and every harvest is curated with as much attention as the editor of the New Yorker might give each week's issue. And if you have a friend who has been mooching off your share, tell them that the real deal is worth it!
Valentine's Day winter wedding at The Danforth Inn in Portland. No, we didn't grow any of the material. But we're keepin' skills sharp nevertheless!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Valentine's Day Flowers

14 weeks of fresh, local flowers from June through September. Available for pick-up or delivery to South Portland and Cape Elizabeth and to FLORA*BLISS in Portland. Sign-up online.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Appreciating the Mundane

We've been back in the States for a few days now. It snowed the day after we got home. I felt a little like we had been dropped into our own snow globe. It is beautiful here. And, the snow kept the place quiet. Although, I did make a trip to town for groceries.

 There were a few key things we all missed while traveling in Ecuador. Mostly, these things were food items. The top of the list: good in a good cheese plate with a nice fig jam and some crackers. Second on the list: arugula.

The other thing I realized I missed, and would have never guessed it, the mundane parts of my day I take for granted....listening to NPR while I snack on that cheese plate, drinking wine and making a meal for my family. I'm usually alone, sometimes there's company for parts of the process. But usually, its just me. It's time I look forward to. It's a steady in the day. I missed this. I guess I mean I missed my life. I appreciate it now just a little more, and that feels great. I missed being part of the middle-class arugula-eating, NPR-listening, America, bourgeois.

 I also missed the first 2 episodes of Downton and the season opener of Sherlock Holmes (have I mentioned the BBC obsession?). Of course, there is no time wasted catching up. It still does get dark here so early in January.

All over the internet, I've been seeing years in review. I'm not quite interested in looking back at 2013. It felt like a good year, it ended well. All I can really remember is that I turned 40. (sometimes its all about me). Somedays, I get mired down in my new decade...40. Like yesterday, at Whole Foods. I was noticing all these mamas with young babies.

For a second I thought to myself gosh these momma are all like teenagers, they're so young. Then, I realized they're probably average for new moms. Its me who's aging. There's this wrinkle between my eyebrows that won't go away, making me look a little angry all the time. Any thoughts on Botox? And, I sobbed watching some stupid Rom-Com flick on the plane in the middle of the night coming home. It was about this middle aged woman whose daughter is leaving for college. It felt a little too close, in a way I don't usually relate to Rom-Coms. Granted, I was feeling a little fragile, tired on the red-eye flight and sad to be leaving our winter vacation. But, I think I'm also feeling big transitions coming for 2014. Emma leaves home and I know its time. I know she's ready. I'm ready....I hate saying that. I think I'm saying it as an affirmation more than anything because I'm really not at all ready. It's like my most precious seedling is going out into the big field, the one I've been cultivating in the safety of the greenhouse for ever. Out in the field, I don't know so much about how things happen. My place has been in the greenhouse, mothering all those babes. But her roots are golly she's rootbound. I can't believe she'll be 18 in a few weeks. That of course means I'm old enough to have an 18 year old daughter, implying again my age and circling back around to the whole decade birthday thing, and making it about me. I really do want to age gracefully.

Mostly, when I get beyond myself and my own personal age related fantasies, I'm looking forward to 2014, ever the optimistic farmer. I'm ready to put all the seed orders together, pick out the date for the chicks and the piglets to arrive and have the vet visit to see if the cow is bred. I'm ready to get back to work. In a few weeks, we'll fire up the greenhouse wood stove and get some plant babies going. Tomorrow, we have a load of appointments and interviews for new interns. The work of winter farming commences for these farmers with plenty of that mundane I was missing.

It's all so hopeful, the routine, the start of a new season. It always is. And, once that greenhouse is going, I can get some arugula started while streaming NPR in the greenhouse. I think my arugula likes to listen to All Songs Considered.

And, if you want to help us pay for college, join us for the 2014 season, purchase a produce or flower share. My mom suggested we try crowd-sourcing to help Emma pay for college tuition....this is as good as it gets. 

Blessings on the meal-

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Job Posting

The Long Barn Educational Initiative at Broadturn Farm
Executive Director Posting

The Long Barn Educational Initiative at Broadturn Farm is a nonprofit organization whose programs take place in collaboration with Broadturn Farm and the Scarborough Land Trust. We seek a dynamic, visionary Executive Director to lead the organization in its mission to build farm-based knowledge through creative, meaningful programs at Broadturn Farm.

The Long Barn Educational Initiative benefits from a unique collaboration with a working farm and a dedicated land trust.  Broadturn Farm is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm located 10 miles from Portland, Maine that raises organic vegetables and cut flowers, with livestock on a homestead scale. The farm also hosts weddings and events.  The property is in agricultural conservation with the Scarborough Land Trust and is one of the largest farm properties in the Greater Portland area.  It has 100 acres of open land and about 300 wooded acres. The property supplies an abundance of both farm- and forest-based opportunities for learning by doing.

Overseen by Long Barn, summer camp at Broadturn Farm has been in operation since 2006, serving hundreds of school-age children in the greater Portland area. In addition, LBEI offers preschool programming, elementary field trips and adult programming.

Essential duties and responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • With the Board, create and implement a long term strategic vision for Long Barn Educational Initiative at Broadturn Farm, one that makes use of the farm’s unique assets while advancing the mission, and ensuring financial sustainability
  • Provide strong and consistent day-to-day leadership with staff and work effectively and collaboratively with farmers and board members
  • Recognize, recruit and train talented educators
  • Effectively market Long Barn programs to a wide array of community members using multiple channels and strategies
  • Represent Long Barn and articulate the mission actively and compellingly across various contexts and settings
  • Develop and maintain an effective program of external community relations including building strategic partnerships with other organizations and schools.
  • Lead staff in successful implementation of agriculture, education and recreation programs, including fee-generating programs.
  • Manage the budget and resources in an effective and efficient way, oversee short term financial accounting as well as long term strategic business plans
  • Develop and implement fundraising efforts for the organization, including membership, events and grant writing
  • Communicate clearly with board, farmers, members and community stakeholders including teachers and parents

Experience and skills: Ideal candidates will be passionate about farm-based transformative education, and bring a variety of meaningful education, farming and management skills including:

Leadership.  A record of effective leadership experience, both in an organizational and community capacity. Non-profit and revenue-generating program management experience ideal.
Vision. Curiosity, innovation, and capacity to imagine and realize long and short term goals for meaningful farm-based education.
Collaboration.  Experience in external relations and community collaboration, ability to work closely with Broadturn farmers and the Scarborough Land Trust
Marketing. Facility in promotion using a variety of web- and mail- based tools, consistent record of reaching appropriate audiences including the ability to be a strong spokesperson on behalf of Long Barn
Financial Management. Strong skills in day-to-day management of finances.
Fundraising. Successful grant writer, event planner and cultivator of members and donors.
Follow through. Ability to organize multiple components, follow up with members and campers, maintain databases, and collect feedback and metrics.

To apply, please send resume and a cover letter via email to

Review of candidates begins January 31st. Applicants will be considered until the position is filled.