July 6, 2011

Soup to Nuts: In Maine,
eating local just keeps getting easier

Fresh Maine meats and produce – and even meals made from them – are now just a mouse click away.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Stephanie Hedlund scoured the Portland Farmers Market in Monument Square on Wednesday, looking for just the right vegetables to put in a tamale casserole she was thinking about making for her clients.

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Stephanie Hedlund of Clara Burke Kitchen, right, buys greens and edible flowers from Mary Ellen Chad of Green Spark Farm in Cape Elizabeth.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Stephanie Hedlund shops for tomatoes at the Olivia’s Garden table at the Portland Farmers Market in Monument Square.

Gordon Chibroski

Additional Photos Below

SEE WHAT'S COOKING

Stephanie Hedlund's website is claraburkekitchen.com.

No doubt some of the local vegetables she found will also go into her bestselling vegetable lasagna. On another day, Hedlund might pick up some steaks from grass-fed cows raised at Harvest Hill Farm in Mechanic Falls, or stop by Green Spark Farm in Cape Elizabeth.

"I've been obsessed with this vegetable they grow called tat soi," Hedlund said. "It's a green sort of similar to spinach, but it has a little bit more of a bitter taste. I'm using it in everything I can think of. I made a quiche out of it. You can put it into any kind of Asian dish."

Hedlund's new business is called Clara Burke Kitchen, and it is literally farm-to-table. Hedlund prepares meals made with local, seasonal products from Maine farms and delivers them right to her clients' doorsteps.

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.

Hedlund cooks and delivers entire meals of farm-fresh food to her clients. And two Cape Elizabeth farms are expanding their new online ordering system, where customers can choose the local foods they want with a click of the mouse.

The Cape Farms' Market online business, begun by Jordan's Farm and Alewives Brook Farm as an experiment over the winter, drew an average of 150 orders a week. Now home delivery within a 7-mile radius of Cape Elizabeth is being added to the mix, and the farms are signing up businesses who want to give their employees access to local foods.

"We know there are people out there who really want to participate in the local movement, and who really want to become closer to the farms, and who really want to know their farmer, but they really don't have the time," said Penny Jordan of Jordan's Farm in Cape Elizabeth. "I know that sounds like a minimal thing, but if I was a parent who had four kids and I worked full-time, there's a lot of stuff going on in your life."

REACHING FARMS STATEWIDE

The Cape Farms' Market sources products from farms all over the state. The service provides a new outlet for farms that ordinarily don't market their products in southern Maine, and it gives the Cape Elizabeth farms access to products they don't ordinarily sell at their own farm stands – products such as lamb from Meadowsweet Farm in the Lakes Region, goat cheeses from Creeping Thyme Farm in Buxton and maple syrup from Cooper Maple Products in Windham.

"We also source products that we might grow ourselves, but we might not have enough to also put on the market," Jordan said.

"For example, we do grow kale. Our kale isn't ready, so we will purchase kale from another producer if we know they have kale. We grow strawberries, but I may purchase from another producer because I don't have enough strawberries for my farm stand as well as the online market."

Here's how it works. At 7 p.m. Thursdays, the online market at capemarket.internet-farmer. com opens. Customers go online and put what they'd like to buy into their online shopping cart.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Stephanie Hedlund visits with Samantha Williams of Aurora Mills & Farm in Linneus.

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Stephanie Hedlund checks out the produce from Fishbowl Farm in Bowdoinham at the Portland Farmers Market.

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Stephanie Hedlund's new business, Clara Burke Kitchen, features meals prepared from locally grown food.



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