This is the time of year to get out and enjoy all that is on offer from your local farmers and artisans at your neighborhood farmer’s markets! I’ve decided to interview some of the farmers I work with and admire to see what makes them tick. Below is my interview with Mary from Cedar Mill Farm, a fellow vendor at the Hampden Farmer’s Market on Fridays from 2-6 in the Hampden Town Office Parking Lot.
(Eat Real) What is the name of your business/farm?
(Cedar Mill Farm) Cedar Mill Farm
(Eat Real) How many employees do you have?
(Cedar Mill Farm) One worker (me) and one part-time (husband Bruce)
(Eat Real) What is your main product(s)?
(Cedar Mill Farm) We are still figuring out our niche. Right now I’m going for items that please the senses – beautiful cut flowers, fragrant and useful herbs both potted and cut, unique and beautiful vegetables (Happy Rich cutting broccoli, butterhead lettuces as beautiful as any flower, colorful hot peppers and snack peppers et al.), and garlic for eating and planting (all tested for nematodes and assorted diseases.)
(Eat Real) What are your secondary products?
(Cedar Mill Farm) Pineapple tomatillos, salad turnips, eggs (chicken and duck), Angora rabbit fiber, handspun yarns and crocheted items, dried herbs, some winter vegetables. Our next venture will be winter grown greens in a minimally heated greenhouse.
(Eat Real) Other than the Hampden Farmer’s Market, what are your other marketing avenues? (CSA, storefront, other markets, internet, etc.)
(Cedar Mill Farm) We also vend at the Hermon Farmers Market on Thursdays
(Eat Real) Why did you decide to get into the business?
(Cedar Mill Farm) This is my second business. After 30 years in the nursery and greenhouse business it was time to step away from the retail plant trade and go back to my family roots in farming. I wanted to be one of the cool kids!
(Eat Real) In what ways does your business/farm support other local/small businesses? (Do you use products from local suppliers, etc.?)
(Cedar Mill Farm) I try to purchase seeds and supplies from local and New England businesses. I am building a customer base of local florists looking for the freshest flowers for their customers.
(Eat Real) What is your greatest challenge in the running of your business?
(Cedar Mill Farm) My greatest challenge in running the farm is me – trying to focus on just a few products and doing the best job I can. There are so many cool things to grow that it’s hard to narrow it down to just what you can reasonably handle. Weather, regulations, and all those other things are all part of the fun. As soon as it’s not fun, it’s time to do something else.
(Eat Real) What is your greatest joy in the running of your business?
(Cedar Mill Farm) The greatest joy in farming is being responsible for my own time, being outdoors as much as I want and not feeling guilty about it, and the pleasure my customers get from the things they buy from me.
(Eat Real) What do you feel are the biggest challenges to the local food movement
(Cedar Mill Farm) The biggest challenges to the local food movement as far as I’m concerned is getting product in front of customers when and where it is convenient for them. Convenience is almost everything even for my own shopping habits. Farmers markets are only one outlet and finding the right way to market products is key.
(Eat Real) Are you from Maine originally? If not, what drew you to the state? If yes, what made you stay and open your business here?
(Cedar Mill Farm) I am originally from upstate New York, though I have been here 38 years (so no, I’m not officially a Mainer!) My family always vacationed in Maine and I knew this is where I wanted to be. Maine is no worse than any other state for doing business. If you want to pay high taxes try New York state!
(Eat Real) What do you feel other businesses could do to support advances in the local food movement, especially as it relates to your product(s)?
(Cedar Mill Farm) Other businesses should do what most of us in the local food movement do – just try to buy as close to home as possible in everything you do. We’re all in this together. Cheap is not always the best choice.
(Eat Real) What do you feel legislators/regulators could do to support advances in the local food movement, especially as it relates to your products?
(Cedar Mill Farm) Government support is not the answer. It has to come by way of every person who eats food just buying local when they can and supporting their neighbors who grow and raise food products. Our state is fairly good at supporting small farmers so I really don’t have any complaints on that score.
You can find Cedar Mill Farm at the Hampden Farmer’s Market in the Hampden Town Office Parking Lot every Friday from 2-6 throughout the summer and fall. Local Food. Eat well – be well.