November 28, 2010

'There is food all over the place'

After last year's washout, local growers welcome 2010's remarkably bountiful harvest

By Beth Quimby bquimby@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Jeff Brown of Portland buys produce from Mary Ellen Chadd at her Green Spark Farmstand in Monument Square in Portland this month. Growers donated more than 200,000 pounds of their harvests to food pantries, shelters and other charitable groups this year.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Ramona Snell spreads hay over newly planted garlic at her Snell Family Farm in Bar Mills this month. "This is the best growing year I have had for 30 years," said Dick Fowler, a grower who raises about 20 different crops at Pleasant Hill Gardens in Scarborough.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

PRODUCTION FROM DENIS THOET'S GARDEN

Cabbages distributed to shareholders this year to date: 878 pounds; distributed in 2009: 385 pounds

Onions distributed this year to date: 1,146 pounds; distributed in 2009: 529 pounds

Carrots distributed this year to date: 879 pounds; distributed in 2009: 571 pounds

Tomatoes distributed this year to date: 205 pounds; distributed in 2009: 140 pounds (only 88 pounds were fully ripened)

A bumper crop can make a big difference for small growers like Luke Donahue, an organic farmer in Alfred.

"It was a complete 180 from the year before," said Donahue, who works two acres mostly by himself and sells the crops to restaurants and about 45 people who bought shares of his harvest.

Donahue said the good season will allow him to continue next year, which wasn't certain at one point. The added income will allow him to pay off his bills from this year and buy more seed, compost and greenhouse supplies for the coming year.

"This has made a huge difference. I feel grateful," said Donahue.

Liz Mott started farming this year after finding herself a widow with three school-aged children. She moved in with her parents at Sunnyfield Farm in Wells, took a course in developing a business plan and started growing vegetables and flowers.

"I thought I could do something with this land," Mott said.

She ended up selling her produce at farmers markets and to a local restaurant. It went so well, she is expanding the garden by 1,000 square feet.

"I pretty much sold out," said Mott.

Thoet said the great season should ensure more repeat customers for a share of his harvest. It helps if the customers feel they got their money's worth, said Thoet.

"We feel good because our members feel good," he said.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

bquimby@pressherald.com

 

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