Cauliflower, broccoli, snap peas, CRANERRIES! Potted culinary herbs for your windowsill, Northern Girl Root Slaw, Ginger, Hot Peppers, Pesto, Butter, Jams and Jellies, Tofu and Tempeh, Falafel, Veggie Burgers….
Good Morning Fellow Eaters of Maine Foods,
One of the chief pleasures of living in Maine is the chance to spend time (occasionally) not doing anything. Now I won’t pretend that I took this photo, rather my much more ‘zen’ and much more artistic twin sister (surprise, surprise)…but I DID get a chance last weekend to journey north to the family farm in Grand Isle and pause for a minute to smell the deep, rich aroma of mixed air temperatures making their way through our spruce forest.
Good thing, too, because the days and weeks here at Crown O’Maine have been jam packed with trucks full to the back door, new people coming into the work team, current employees shifting roles and responsibilities, and the orders that just keep coming.
You can see the effects of all this activity in many places – under my eyes, the state of my home, the increased lateness of delivery times (sorry to those who are struggling through this with us!), and in our warehouse – run like a ship by our talented crew to keep up with the constant flow of goods. There are other places the activity can be seen as well.
Yesterday I traveled again to the County. Not, sadly, to contemplate the blades of grass, or amble in the forests, but to bring a Northern Girl investor on a tour of our new facility and current pilot kitchen. As with many people traveling to the region in the wave of interest in local food production, this visitor admired how much is going on up North. “Everyone says it’s like no other part of Maine,” she said, “They are right.”
Granted, the itinerary I emailed her included things like, “If you go for a hike on our farm please bring two kitchen spoons to periodically warn our bears that you are around.” What can I say, they typically have the run of the place.
The fact of the matter is Aroostook County, though sparse in population, is seeing the changes that typically take decades to arrive from the south. Grain crops for Organic Valley and Blue Seal. A 25 year old pear orchard (Liz Lauer’s) standing proudly in a remote town fairly described as off the beaten path. A new Amish community in Hodgdon (Hidden Hill & Sunrise Farm) abutting a sixth generation potato farm. The dots, here in Maine, are being connected by the purchases you are making through and with Crown O’ Maine. A vast community of growers like Liz, who could never sell the full harvest of all her full size trees in her small hometown, find a supportive market with our community of eaters ready to respond to her perseverance with, “Thank you.” Liz and her husband Chris had the vision and dedication to tend a pear orchard long before Crown O’Maine was ever thought of. They are not the only growers who broke the ground we plant today.
The work we do–you, your families and businesses, and our staff, growers, and producers–is the essence of the Slow Food concept of co-production. Liz has pears that can be found in few other places. You have pears that wouldn’t exist on a list save for your purchase of them. Crown O’Maine has a reason to make towns like Prentiss, Hodgdon, Fort Kent, Limestone and so many more, destinations on our trade routes.
When I see the signs ‘Maine is Open For Business’, I think about more than industrial parks in cities along I-95. Perhaps that’s because the sign that greets Canadians just in from Van Buren sits at the top of a huge hill with sweeping vistas of oats and potatoes in all directions. It’s open, all right.
The ecologist in me knows that too much open in our fields and too much density in those spruce forests are both problematic to our economy and our land. But the writer in me keeps on thinking about what ‘open’ means to a land owner and a business owner.
Open signs, open minds, open ground. Open air. Open doors.
Enough all ready. Open the list, and open the sluice ways delivering Maine food to your door.