Sunday, May 8, 2016

We had an absolutely fantastic time on Saturday May 7th for our first Saturday Seedling Sale of 2016. We are busy filling wholesale orders all week and will be hoping to see you and yours out here Saturday for the May 14th Sale. 8am-12 noon-- the morning!

The whole first planting of brassicas and spinach, lettuces and parsley are in the farm fields. Planted, watered and already sending roots down down down.

Prentice and I are counting our lucky stars as the work crew continues to gel. Chris and Laura have returned for a second year and this is amazing in so many ways. It is always a pleasure to have people return for a second year of learning and doing here. It ups our responsibilities as mentors to a next generation of farmers and it has obvious benefits of having people who already know our systems.

Sydney and Rose round out the 'regular' crew and both of the, though new to farming are getting right into the act. Sydney loves carpentry and has built many a bench in her few short weeks here. Rose is a wealth of information for all of us as she has lots of forestry and animal research under her belt.

2016 will also include some stellar volunteers who dash in for a day or afternoon each week and buoy the whole of us with their stories from other times and places and of course contribute beyond measure to the work of the place. In short, we are very very grateful and so lucky to look forward to months ahead of a fine group of collaborators on this Villageside Farm thing we do.

We still have CSA shares available and a host of fantastic add-on shares: Cheeses from Appleton Creamery, Bread from back40 Bakehouse and Apples in the fall from Out on a Limb. Info for all of these locally produced and delicious options are available on our CSA page. 

Be in touch, friends, with any questions about any of it. We are here and we would love to see you and feed you in the growing season ahead.

With Love,
Polly and co.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Robo-bees and the Wrong End of the Problem

So there I was in my kitchen having a perfectly wonderful conversation with a dear friend when she tells me that over April vacation she and her son were in Boston and saw an exhibit about robo-bees (but don't click on that rabbit hole now, okay?).

It was like she hit me over the head with the reality bat. You probably all know about them?

Well, they were all new to me but they shook something clear in me.

The robo-bees are yet another example of our human propensity to invent something new and yes, totally COOL, to attempt to solve a problem that we created. These bees might someday pollinate our food crops. On one level that is cool, but deeply, deeply disturbing on another.

We so often apply our intelligence to the wrong end of the problem. Bee die off. Cancer. Pollution. Global Warming. You name it. We innovate like hell to build something NEW. To discover something NEW.

We could focus (our minds and dollars) on the other end of the problem, its beginning, its cause, its root.
Why don't we do this more?
Instead we choose to see, and fund, the benefits to introducing the new gene, the new nano-bee, the new chemo drug.

Is it because the problems are too big? Seem too big? Too many 'factors'? Too many complications?
"Too much" interconnection (which is the very definition of the ecological worldview)?

Is it because we want the new, not the old? We want to shop, not sort through the trash. 

Is it because we are hog-tied by our dependence on pharmo-chemical companies?

I say, let's INNOVATE on our noticing.
Let's INNOVATE on the connections.
Let's INNOVATE on the cleanup.
Let's INNOVATE on the prevention.
Let's get to 'enough is enough'. 

Of course, of course, so much is happening on all of these fronts. We need innovation, invention. I am not all 18th Century Woman here. There are so many good people and organizations of good people working toward the root cause and new solutions to the problems we face. And I am grateful to those people.

But wait.
 (Time-elapsed photo of bees. I am sorry I don't know the photographer. It is from the internet.) 
I am also so grateful for the bees. The real bees. The whole marvelous mystery of them. All of the everything we don't even know about them! The ten thousand connections that they have in our glorious world that we don't understand. It is this web that is also in peril as pollinators die off.

No robo-bee can step into the web of life. They can perform a function. Maybe.

But bees...they are the real deal. The genuine articles. The originals.

We cannot afford to lose them. We should not dare lose them.
'Lose' is actually quite the wrong word. A candy-coated euphemism that is easier to swallow and say. 'Lose' connotes forgetfulness and somehow that they might be 'found.' There is only a twinge of death in the word 'lose'.

What we are doing is not losing bees but killing bees. And when we kill a life form that has evolved in situ, within the web of life here on Earth, we exterminate far more than one single life form but we make impossible, we kill now, a whole line of potential life processes in the future. 

So I will bring this back to the here and now. It is Spring and you might be fixin' to garden. Don't buy that Walmart seedling that has been doused a few times with various insecticides. Just don't. That OrthoWhatever product on the hardware store shelves that promises to rid your beloved plants of whatever insect-shaped ill it's got...don't buy it.

Let us all garden with the bees and for the bees.
May we all grow a bit each day.
With love, Polly and co.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Marching toward Spring!

With March just around the corner, we farmers are tidying up the last of our necessary winter work. Farm planning (aka building spread sheets), seed ordering, firewood, home improvements and vehicle maintenance are a few of the things we have been up to lately. On the family front, lots of game playing and then outdoor bike riding some days, sledding the next!

It is a huge relief to all of us that Prentice's knee surgery back in December went so well. His rehab has also gone well and he is feeling on track for everything but high impact sports in 2016. Soccer, skiing and ice hockey will have to wait until 2017, folks! The boys and I are also well, very much enjoying the warmth of hearth and home, times with family and farm critters and books, books, books!

Next week we will cross the seasonal threshold into seedling care. We will sow the first seeds of 2016 with our best blessings and hopes for a bountiful growing season. This is always a joyous moment when we take pause, wonder at the life held dormant in the incredible, wee beings called seeds and then drop first one then thousands into good, rich potting soil.

As you can imagine, we are teeing up our markets, as well. We have met with all the caterers, coops, restaurateurs and distributors who purchase the good food grown here at Villageside. Our CSA is of course, another market for us. Spring. . . er. . . late winter sign ups help us plan for how much advertising we need to do in order to fill our membership goal. If you intend to sign up, use the sign up link here.
Pay it all at once or pay as you can. We will remind you monthly until you are paid off.
Checks by mail are best.
Shares are $475 for 21 weeks this year. June 21-Nov 1.

Spread the word, if you can, and care to!
You know what we offer, who we are, what we are trying for.

If you have a friend, co-worker, neighbor or family member who is curious about food and local farming, please do hand them an info card (posted around town in Belfast, or call us and we can send you some!), post a happy recommendation to facebook or other social media, or pen them a letter, with real ink!

 Our website is

With all warm greetings to each of you,
gratitude for your support last year and over many years,
and hugs from your farmers in Freedom,

Polly and co.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Checking in, 2016

As 2015 was closing its doors forever, the boys and Prentice and I got to talking, over the course of many days, about highlights of the year. Joseph and Ben saw three otters and three water snakes in the same summer day. While hiking in Acadia, we came upon a convention of ravens.
We had wonderful times with family and friends. Our farming season was both successful and really fun. Prentice got a new guitar and played it almost daily. I danced a lot.

We did get sued. Prentice did blow out his knee. A family of foxes made off with many a chicken. There were family health events.
Those were the lowlights.

We didn't take many pictures. I notice that as I review the photo files. Actually, Prentice and I didn't take many photos. Ben took a LOT of photos. There are Lego scenes, slow-motion domino detonations, marble runs and lots of cats sleeping photos. This one cracked me up. We are a game playing bunch, so it shouldn't be surprising that someone felt the need to document the vintage Master Mind box. But still.


The major highlight of 2015 for all five of us was the chance to spend 6 months with our farm crew. Laura, Chris, Rose and Sam were here April-November. This picture was snapped on the last day of work. We look pretty happy. I felt very happy . . .and very grateful.

Since Prentice's knee surgery in December, I have been doing all the animal chores. Winters often find me out there as Prentice and I split up the rounds. But during the growing season, with the crew living on site, I seldom feed or water any animals but my own kin. So it has been a special treat to be the sole provider for all of our creatures all winter long. I do so love feeding other beings.

Each morning now, as I choose the haybales from the hayloft to drop down to the barn floor, I am washed with memories of stacking those bales back in July. Somehow the body's memory of stacking, the heat, the CLANG!CLANG! clatter of the hay elevator, really is triggered by handling the bales again. I wonder who stacked this one. I know that Laura probably dropped it from the wagon and that Joseph probably loaded it on the elevator. There were favorite stations for some of us. There is half a mountain of hay now. We have worked through a lot. I am halfway through the remembering, I guess.

The chickens are in their winter digs = one of the hoophouses. They line up against the north wall in the morning, waiting for the very southerly sun to rise. They know where it hits ground first. They wait there for it.

Up until last week, I had been picking spinach weekly for the Coop and The Lost Kitchen. This week looks warmer, so perhaps I will get out in that hoophouse again and make another harvest.

Prentice's father built these wood storage bins in November. They are filled with firewood/fodder for our wood boiler in the big heated greenhouse. Kind of like canning tomatoes for winter, these honies are capped and ready for spring.

Salvatore and Pepe are having a winter holiday, or more like working visit, to a friend's in Unity. With Prentice's knee mending this winter, there was no hope for getting them yoked up (they are waaaaay too strong and frisky for me!) and in the woodlot so we trailered them over the hill with the idea that they might come back better trained and that our friend would enjoy the time with them.

So many of you friends of our farm loved the ginger in CSA shares or at the Belfast Coop. We sold a large portion of the harvest to Crown o' Maine this fall. We haven't seen the final product but we hear they froze a huge amount and are selling it to restaurants and institutions.
Our friend Joanna took this picture of me as I gathered some fall kale. My face doesn't really show how happy I am to be knee deep in that bounty.
Ah yes, the new name. I won't write much about the lawsuit and settlement other than we are through it. It wasn't bad. We had some good, good people helping us figure it out. It was fun to gather ideas for new names. We waited and waited for the right name to come along. Prentice saw the word "trackside" and then thought "Villageside" and it was an instant "YES."

We like the word "side" and all the side-y words: bedside, oceanside, poolside, mountainside, sidle up, sideways, sidelong, and now, villageside.

You will see a re-worked label and logo this spring. Gotta repaint the driveway sign. That'll do it!

The view of Jordan Pond from Sargeant Mountain in Acadia. October. A hiking trip with the children has been our fall exhale for the past few years. I wonder what it is like today up there. Sunny and white and glorious, certainly.

And on a commercial note:
We tweaked our CSA a bit this year. Always trying to simplify. Sign ups are happening at this link.
And we have a good many radically well-raised (pastured and organically fed) chickens in the freezer if you want to buy one or a dozen, be in touch. They are $4.75/lb with most of them around 5lbs.

From here, the farm by the village in a town called Freedom, we send our best,
Polly and co.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Greenhouse Groovin'

Yep, we made a little video to promote our upcoming Seedling Sale Days. One take. 59 seconds of goofery. That is all you get for this year!!
(Technical note: I cannot seem to get the full video to load to this blog page. So just click on the link and that will take you to our public facebook page where you can see it.)

See if you can spot the product placement for Vermont Compost Company, an "I biked to the [Common Ground] Fair!" sticker and American Farmland Trust's "It isn't farmland without farmers" bumper sticker. And yes, that is real dirt on the stereo. I think it spent some time on the concrete slab.

The seedlings look great. We can't wait for the on farm sale days where we get to see so many of our gardening friends and neighbors.
May 9, 16, 23 and 30 right here at Village Farm
8 am-12 pm

Hope to see you soon! Like tomorrow at the orchard planting party?!?!?

Polly and co.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Though this picture was taken last Spring, we are not far from this degree of green. Just a few more weeks, I would guess.

Back in late March, I (Polly) took the boys on a road trip to Vermont. Abe asked if they would have different fruit available there. Ben asked if he should pack his shorts and crocs. No, no and no, boys. Vermont certainly was no respite from the late, cold and windy Spring we had in Maine, but it was a break from the ordinary days here at home. We had a blast visiting friends.

We stayed in Richmond with a family that had recently returned from a 8 month trip to Bolivia. Wow, did we soak up the stories and pictures and admired their Bolivian duds that they wore home as they left all their American clothes there with new friends.

One concept that I think of often as I plug away at all of the farm tasks that have me working a desk job, by myself, is the Bolivian word for work party: minga.

Our Vermont hosts spoke of the townspeople in Samaipata getting together regularly to do a job that benefited the community or just one household. They would call a minga, gather and get a job done. Together.

So won't you come by this weekend for a community effort right here in Freedom? Our dear friends, Rebecca and Matt Stauffer are planting an heirloom apple orchard in our eastern pasture.

Orchard Planting Party

Saturday, May 1 (and possibly Sunday May 2)

9am-4pm. Lunch provided. Bring a shovel and a bucket.
We hope to see you! 
And I have a list of VF news pieces that need sharing here on this blog, so stay tuned!
Best wishes from all of us, Polly and co.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Community Muscles

If there is such a thing as high summer, then mustn't there be a high winter? This week feels like it. With two whopper snowstorms behind us and another one before us, we Village Farmers are knee deep in seed catalogs and crop planning spreadsheets between plowing and shoveling events.

The barnyard report is blissfully uneventful. The cows grunch-grunch their hay in a most satisfying way and the hens are happily ensconced in their hoophouse turned chicken house. That is about it. Well, I guess we did find out this week, in a most embarrassing way, that Miss Meow, a recent addition to the barnyard menagerie, is actually a male. Oh well, leave it to the farmers to skip looking for the identifying parts.

There was a solid turnout Thursday night at a community meeting here in Freedom. I don't get out much, as they say, but as the children were off for a weekend with their grandparents, it was a pleasure to sit with other Freedomites for a few hours of mid-winter scheming. The scheming at hand was regarding a building that the Historical Society acquired this past fall. The Society paid back taxes to the town to take ownership of "Keen Hall," the yellow house on the western edge of our village. Most people remember it as the principal's house. Clayton Larrabee remembers taking his senior finals in it in the 50's. 

Chris Glass, an expert on historical preservation was in attendance and he spoke eloquently to the value, both economic and cultural, of historical preservation of significant buildings. He brought some drawings of possible renovation scenarios for the 18x36 original building, the 18x18 original ell and also recommended that the existing, decrepit garage be torn down.

The Historical Society asked for ideas from the gathered citizens. There were words of encouragement and support and, of course, words of doubt.

Not everyone agreed that this building was a worthy project but in the speaking and listening, a few key misconceptions were cleared up.
1. This is not a town project. There will be no additional tax burden to Freedom residents. This is a project of a newly incorporated 501(c)3 non-profit (The Freedom Community Historical Society).
2. Though non-profits do not pay taxes to the town, some choose to give a "payment in lieu of taxes" to acknowledge the use of town services and the fact that a property in town is no longer on the tax rolls.

What I witnessed was a room full of people who were interested enough in the project to leave their woodstoves and comfy chairs and show up to a meeting. I heard people speaking up in support and others speaking up in dissent. To me, this all adds up to the good news that people care. And since change comes only through our active participation in our places, our towns, our waterways, I think that those who want to work together should work together.
Working together builds our community muscles.
And working together feels good.
There are certainly many ways to improve and give back to our town. (Cleaning up falling down houses was one that came up quite a few times last night.) Through the initiative of the Historical Society, the one before us last eve was a "bold," (to quote Mr. Freedom General) suggestion that instead of tearing down an eyesore, we fix it up. This house stands at the western gateway to our village. The questions on the table were "Does this part of our history have a future? Should we work together to save it?"

I do hope so. I look forward to lending my hands to its restoration but mostly I look forward to having a project to work on with my neighbors.

Want to get involved? Next meeting of the Freedom Historical Society is Wednesday, Feb 11 at the Town Office Annex. 7pm.
With all our best, The Village Farmers