Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog, deliciousmusings.com.
When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse.
In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more.
Lyle Merrifield and one of his older antique wooden maple buckets.
This sugaring season, before we address all the important stuff going on with maple production in Maine and all the sweet things Merrifield Farm in Gorham, Maine will be offering the public at this year’s Maple Sunday Weekend (which is less than two weeks away - for anyone counting) – let’s talk real versus fake.
There is real maple syrup – the sweet stuff gifted to us from trees - and then there is the fake stuff. I was raised on pure maple syrup. To the average Joe this might not be a big thing, but to someone who practically considers pancakes a food group – the distinction is very important. Folks, when it comes to maple syrup I don’t food around.
Coffee drink at Bard Coffee.
In the Root’s newest series on coffee, we will be connecting with some of the craftsmen who make up Maine’s rapidly evolving specialty coffee industry and learning about where coffee comes from, environmental issues associated with coffee farming, and the aromas and tastes of brewed coffee. The coffee these craftsmen serve is the antithesis of the water-soluble instant coffee you will find in grocery stores or the over-roasted cup from the corner Starbucks. There is a lot more than an expensive marketing campaign behind their beans.
For this group of articles, The Root is working with Anestes Fotiades, the Editor of the Portland Food Map and someone who appreciates great coffee.
Farmer Bertilio Reyes Portillo at Finca Portillo, El Cielito, Santa Barbara, Honduras
Farmers in Maine face some of the same climate and weather-related problems that plague their counterparts in Central America. Mother Nature, as we know does not discriminate. She answers to no one and does as she pleases. Man has not been kind to her, so could one really blame her?
With an increase in public awareness about food and farming in the past decade, there is an opportunity for farmers and their advocates to use your everyday trip to the farmers’ market and yes coffee shop as a soapbox. The general idea – be a good steward to the land or else. To all the enthusiasts for organic, local and sustainably grown food – this is old news.
A friend recently told me she is wary of people who don’t have books in their homes and I have to say I thoroughly understand that sentiment. I will go a step further and say I don’t want to know people who don’t read books. We’re talking the physical kind with paper and spines. The kind that once you accumulate enough of them make that trip down to the IKEA, which is located somewhere near Boston in all that traffic – necessary. At this point those floor to ceiling bookcases that can be found there, brought home, assembled, and lined up along the wall (so you no longer are stacking books on the floor, tables… ) are necessary.
What you read and the kinds of books you display in your home say a lot about who you are - your past, future, occupation, and interests.
These days, upstairs is somewhat regulated to personal reads, mostly purchased at Hello Hello Books in Rockland, Maine. My downstairs living space on the main floor is occupied primarily by a combination of farming, food, and drink books I have gathered as part of my research for stories I am writing. Many of these books come from Rabelais Books in Biddeford, Maine and some are kindly sent complimentary courtesy of Chelsea Green Publishing and Storey Publishing.
Currently at the top of my reading pile are the following:
Traditional Passamaquoddy fish basket, at the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine.
I loved visiting national parks with my father when I was growing up. We went to some of the biggest - Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. From behind-the-wheel or horseback we would gaze upon this country’s greatest natural wonders. I loved the beauty, history, science – everything about the parks on those family trips.
After leaving the park I would beg my father to pull over at every other roadside souvenir shop and sometimes he would oblige – mostly when it was at a more “authentic” one where Native Americans sold exquisite bead work, bracelets, colorful pottery and moccasins.