Farmer Flora Brown knows her approach to poultry is unusual.

“We have a rest home for chickens,” jokes Brown, who with her husband Noah Wentworth has farmed Frinklepod Farm in Arundel for the past three years. (The farm is named for a plant in a children’s book about environmental destruction.)

The Frinklepod flock includes hens, roosters, ducks, ducklings and, interestingly, one bunny. Most of the female birds are past their egg-laying prime and were taken in by Brown and Wentworth after they found postings for them online or heard about them through friends.

The few eggs the ducks and chickens do produce are sold in the farm store, but the birds actually have a more important job: organic pest control and fertilizer production.

In the spring and fall, the chickens free range over the farm’s roughly four acres of vegetable fields eating bugs and grubs.

At this time of year, the birds are penned in a portable coop that allows Wentworth, who does the bulk of the farming, to move the flock to fresh forage and keep the birds from eating all the produce.

Using ducks and chickens as pest control isn’t the only distinguishing feature at Frinklepod Farm. Another is the all-vegetarian farm store. In addition to a big, ever-changing display of vegetables and fruits from the farm, the store also offers groceries that are all vegetarian and locally made.

“We sell things that go with produce,” said Brown, 32, who was raised vegetarian and began eating vegan when she entered college. Wentworth, 41, eats mostly vegetarian food. Their two daughters, Sascha, 4, and Odetta, 1, eat mostly vegan food.

Some of the items they stock in the store – in addition to eggs – include bread, jams, dry beans, corn tortillas, mushrooms, tempeh, oatmeal, cornmeal, fresh noodles, sauce, maple syrup, sea salt, sauerkraut, polenta, dried sea vegetables, frozen blueberries and popsicles.

Brown says she hears from other farmers that selling meat – which has a higher profit margin than vegetables – is key to keeping their finances afloat.

“I have been mainly vegan for a really long time, so I wasn’t interested in livestock,” she said. “Hopefully we can farm and make an honest living without including animal products.”

One way they’re doing so is by selling 125 community supported agriculture, or CSA, shares each year. The shares can be bought in a variety of denominations (from $150 to $550) in late winter and early spring and then redeemed at the farm stand for produce and groceries throughout the summer. A small percentage of members opt to pick up a pre-packed bag of produce instead.

The farm also offers a more limited winter CSA.

CSA subscribers have special members-only hours at the farm stand on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. At the same time, the farm is very welcoming to the surrounding community, accepting food stamps, hosting monthly picnics, inviting school groups and organizing low-cost food demonstrations and events.

Brown is an educator who teaches part-time at the New School in Kennebunk. She runs a Kids on the Farm educational series where young children pick food from the field and make vegetable-based snacks.

Wentworth and Brown both believe in a “beyond organic” approach to farming that emphasizes “building healthy soil, attracting beneficial insects for pest control and pollination, using hand tools and working as intimately as possible with each plant,” according to the farm’s website.

However, they are not certified organic. Brown said when they got to the end of the application, they realized they didn’t have the money to cover the fee. So they put it off. And put it off.

“We’ve never had a thousand bucks lying around,” Brown said, but emphasized that she and Wentworth wholeheartedly support the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the state’s organic certifying agent. They have less confidence in the federal organic regulatory standards.

During the three years they’ve been farming, they’ve talked about these issues with their customers.

“We realized how transparent everything was we were doing,” Brown said. “And we realized having the official certification was less important than just having people observe how we do things.”

Still, if they ever have extra money, they haven’t ruled out applying for MOFGA certification.

Right now, Frinklepod Farm is at the peak of the summer harvest with standbys like tomatoes, green beans, garlic and squash coming out of the field, so there’s little time for other projects. But when they have time, Brown and Wentworth work on improving their infrastructure and fine-tuning their product offerings.

Eventually, they’d like to expand the greenhouses and the four-season growing capabilities and add more flowers to sell as fresh cut.

“We want to keep innovating and figure out what we can do next,” Brown said. “And we want people to feel comfortable, and feel like they can look around.”

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at

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