Ask the Experts: Farmers

Ask EdieBaker1Edie Barker
Barker’s Farm
603 778-1039

Does your farm specialize in any particular vegetable?
We do not specialize in any one particular vegetable. We like to grow a wide range so that we can offer something to everyone.

What is one tip you would give homeowners just starting their own vegetable gardens?
Make sure you have full sun, a source of water, and get a soil test so that you can amend your soil accordingly.

What is the most important component of success for your farm?
There are many components that make up the success of my farm. The most important is being a good steward of the land—making sure I put back into the soil what my crops take out and keeping the soil healthy.

How do you envision the future of farming on the Seacoast?
Small, diverse farms.

 

 

Ask RichardRosenburgh1Richard Rosenburgh
Middle Earth Farm
978 388-4470
Does your farm specialize in any particular vegetable?
Not really, but we’re well known for our arugula—we do both baby microgreen and full-sized arugula. We grow a lot of greens; it varies from year to year.

What is one tip you would give homeowners just starting their own vegetable gardens?
The whole secret behind good vegetables is good soil. Get good organic compost and natural fertilizers, treat your soil the best you can, and the vegetables will follow.

What is the most important component of success for your farm?
We do primarily farmers markets and belong to a small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group. The most important thing is being honest with our customers. We answer their questions honestly and tell them how we grow the vegetables. We have customers that have known us for more than 30 years and know us well. 

How do you envision the future of farming on the Seacoast?
We were losing a lot of farmers 20 years ago in Massachusetts. Just recently there’s an increase in new farms, but they’re smaller, niche farms; they grow specialty vegetables.

I think we’re going to have a lot of small, individual farmers that grow small or gourmet specialty crops. 

 

Ask RaeAvery1Rae Avery
Moondance Gardens
207 252-7539
Does your farm specialize in any particular vegetable?
We do a lot of greens—salad green kinds

of vegetables. We try to do a little bit of unusual things; we’re so small that we can’t compete with the big farms. We have to have a niche. I do a lot of baby arugula, spinach, and specialty lettuces, that kind of thing.

What is one tip you would give homeowners just starting their own vegetable gardens?
Pay attention to your soil. Get a soil tester—that’s the most important thing.

If you know what you need for soil amendments and fertilizers, then your plants are going to grow well. And be fearless, because there’s very little you can do that can’t be fixed in the next year.

What is the most important component of success for your farm?
I’m fortunate enough to have really good soil; that’s a very large part of my success. Time management is also something I don’t overlook: the zucchini or cucumber that is perfect today is going to be a baseball bat tomorrow, so I think that staying on top of things is important.

How do you envision the future of farming on the Seacoast?
I worry about the future here because so much land is being developed. I don’t think people understand the importance of growing local food—it should be thought

of in terms of freshness, ecology, and the use of fuels and transportation. I do worry about where people think their food is going to come from if we chop up all the fields and build on them. 

 

Ask ReneeGoyette1Renee Goyette
New Roots Farm
603 770-4125
Does your farm specialize in any particular vegetable?
Over the years, we’ve whittled down the number of different crops that we grow, due in part to learning over the years what we’re really good at. We mainly focus on tomatoes and garlic, with sweet peppers and eggplant as well. The diversity of varieties within these groups is amazing. For all of our vegetables, we focus on varieties that taste great, show some disease resistance, and produce well. 

What is one tip you would give homeowners just starting their own vegetable gardens?
I think the most important thing for those new to vegetable gardening is to start small. It is so easy to get excited by all the different things offered in seed catalogs and through plant sales at local farms. Concentrate on things you use the most in the summer: a few plants of cherry and slicing tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, greens, and a planting of Swiss chard or kale that will produce all season long.

What is the most important component of success for your farm?
Our customers are the most important part of determining success for our farm. We pride ourselves on growing nutrient-dense, organic vegetables and humanely raised, pastured meats that contribute to the health of our community. We have a dedicated customer base that values the extra steps we take not only to produce healthy food for them, but also to provide for the health of the farm.

How do you envision the future of farming on the Seacoast?
The interest in local foods has continued to grow, and I foresee it continuing to grow as more and more mass produced foods available at the grocery stores are recalled due to contamination. As small growers, we're able to be in control all of the steps in producing our food from seed to table.  

 

Ask CaitlinKennedy1Caitlin Kenney
Plough in the Stars Farm
978 238-8141
Does your farm specialize in any particular vegetable?
Rather than specializing, we grow a diverse array of vegetables for our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members and other customers. We choose vegetable varieties for their flavor, ease of use, and uniqueness. In addition, each growing season we try new varieties to ensure we are growing what best suits our farm and our customers’ interest.

What is one tip you would give homeowners just starting their own vegetable gardens?
For soil that’s never grown vegetables before,

a heavy application of high quality organic compost will give your plants the best boost. Gently worked into warming spring soil, the compost will provide the plants the nutrients they need to be strong and healthy.

What is the most important component of success for your farm?
While Plough in the Stars Farm is lucky enough to be located on fantastic agricultural soils, our supportive community is our most important component for success. Our CSA members, farmers market customers, volunteers, friends, and family make it possible for us to run a successful farm.

How do you envision the future of farming on the Seacoast?
I would like to see farming on the Seacoast become a truly viable economic endeavor for farmers and their families. Small, diverse, four-season farms are essential for preserving open spaces and the health of the environment as well as the health of the people within the local community. This value would create a mutually beneficial sustainable relationship for both farmers and consumers.

 

Ask Abe1Abe Zacharias
Zach’s Farm Stand
207 475-7857
Does your farm specialize in any particular vegetable?
We grow everything. We grow some herbs; we grow a ton of vegetables. Sweet corn is by far the biggest crop that we do. We have a corn maze, and my dad [John Zacharias] is a little famous for his sweet corn. You name it, we grow it: peppers, tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, slicing cucumbers, and we have 10 acres of cut flowers.

What is one tip you would give homeowners just starting their own vegetable gardens?
Water. It’s amazing how, when a vegetable plant starts to fruit or starts to produce the vegetable, it wants a lot of water.

What is the most important component of success for your farm?
We add a ton of compost to our soil. We have four irrigation ponds, and we can water the whole farm plentifully. We’re always working, while everything is working against us—insects, the weather—and we just have to stay on top of things. We do about 90 acres with three people, so we’re pretty busy.

How do you envision the future of farming on the Seacoast?
Nowadays it’s mostly small farms. I’m pretty sure my father’s farm is one of the largest in the area. The Seacoast is diverse. I think Seacoast consumers are very conscientious about buying local and supporting the local farmer. It’s always nice to have good support. Hopefully small farms will keep working at it—I’m 29, and I hope I can keep it going.

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