Going Local: Nezinscot Farm

One of the best things about living in Maine is the plethora of small farms and farm stands that are scattered around the state. Any little rural town worth it’s while will have some sort of little farm stand or farms store somewhere along the main drag or down a winding country road. At these stands and stores you can buy anything from fresh veggies and fruits (depending on the time of year), to preserves, baked goods, local meat, and soaps and candles. One of my absolute favorite farm stores is in Turner, Maine: .

It’s places like Nezinscot Farm that make me feel good about where I’m buying food and other products (like yarn, herbal tinctures, and soaps). And though it’s the kind of place that is incredibly dangerous for me to visit, because I could spend hours/tons of money there, I love that I can look out the windows of the shop and see the source of much of the food I’ve placed in my shopping basket. Buying local, especially at a well run, just plain nice place, makes the “chore” of shopping for necessities so much more.

Nezinscot Farm is one of those rare places that manages to provide multiple services and does it well, if casually. The shop is clean, attractive, and feels just as a little farm shop should: not overdone, but organized and well-stocked. One of my favorite offerings is their cheese. Attached to the store Fromagerie where their cheese is made on site, and they offer quite a lot of it in a large variety. As a huge lover of cheese (this makes me sound like a dork…and Steve Urkel), this is kind of a big draw. They also offer organic, free range eggs at about a dollar less than what I can get at the store (and it’s kind of cool that I can see the chickens right outside, happily wandering around), delicious local meat (and by local, I’m talking just outside the store) – everything from beef and pork and chicken to lamb and goat (I made a great stew with the goat meat and it was YUMMY!). In addition to all that, they sell fresh, organic produce, some local, some from away (depending on season).

But that’s not all! The farm store is also a cafe that always has a ridiculous amount of delicious baked treats for sale, coffee and tea available, and you can even get a super, super yummy sandwich for lunch or early supper, or, if you’re lucky enough to have forgotten your lunch at home and need something quick for work, you may be able to stop in at 7 in the morning and have a wrap made for you for later in the day! Which leads me to the next aspect of Nezinscot Farm – their customer service is downright good. Everyone who works there (which includes the entire family who owns the farm), is kind, courteous, and helpful. You really couldn’t ask for more.

The very last thing I love about this farm is the rest of the store that sells a variety of dry goods/not food items. With a focus on health, local, and organic, the range of items available for purchase is heartening for those of us who are looking for alternatives to Wal-Mart or even are bigger local grocery store chains. While I don’t mind going to Wal-Mart out of sheer desperation and I do enjoy our local, large grocery store, it’s nice to have an alternative and have a place that carries more specialty items (like herbals, homemade soap, and large bags of organic flours).

Whether you live in Maine or near Turner or not, you should check out their website (link above) just to see a family run farm and store done right, creatively, and diversely. And, if you’re in the area, go visit! You won’t be disappointed. And if you aren’t local, check out your own local farms – you never know what you might find!

One of my favorite memories of growing up are family vacations. We never did any very extravagant trips – no trips to Disney, anyway – but my parents tried to take us places, sometimes not all that far from home, and made those little family adventures fun.

Now that I’m grown up and E. is getting older (I can hardly believe she’ll be four in less than a month) and we’re contemplating the next addition to our family, I’m itching to make a go of our first real family vacation this summer. Because I’m in education I’m lucky enough to have the entire summer off (I guess it balances out the fact that I get paid beans), so I’ve got a solid two month stretch to figure out when we’ll go (and luckily, the hubs has hardly used any of his vacation time since he started his “new” job last June, so he’ll have a few days saved up as well).

While we’re not sure just when we’ll be going, a destination has been picked:

We live in Maine, the vacation state, the way life should be, we’re open for business (our latest slogan from our wonderful governor – you can decide for yourself if I’m being sarcastic or not). Even when I didn’t live here as a little kid, we still vacationed here, because my grandparents’ had a home in the town where we eventually moved. I love Maine, and I totally encourage people who haven’t come to visit, because this is an amazing state, from the beautiful western Mountains with it’s ski resorts and great hiking, to the coast with it’s sandy beaches and yummy lobsters, to the north, with it’s ridiculous amount of untouched land and state parks to explore.

I’ve been coming to and living this state my entire life. I get to be on “vacation” every day. We didn’t go anywhere except Old Orchard Beach last year and didn’t do one night of actual camping all summer long and we didn’t feel like we missed it, because there is so much to do as a tourist in your home town.

BUT.

This year we want to start a tradition of checking out different states, start camping again, and spend time learning about what else is out there for fun, food, and people. We chose Vermont as our first destination because it’s close, neither one of us has ever really been (I went once to check out the University of Vermont and didn’t get to see much of the state or even Burlington, for that matter), and I lived in Massachusetts, we live in Maine currently, and New Hampshire is crazy close, so we go there frequently and will probably return for our anniversary at the end of August, SO Vermont was the next logical stop.

I am so incredibly excited. My last out of state vacation was back in ’98 or ’99, when I was still in elementary school (we visited Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. – a vacation I so want to recreate for E. when she’s older). The few glimpses I got of Vermont when we visited UVM’s campus about seven years ago have stuck with me all this time later and I’m looking forward to seeing those mountains, picturesque fields, and quaint towns and cities all over again.

I’m pushing hard for a camping trip not too far from Burlington and on Lake Champlain. Husband wants the Green Mountains (if someone can give me a general idea of the proximity of the Green Mountains to Burlington, that would be amazingly helpful). In the end, I don’t think I’ll mind too much where we end up – I’m just excited to be going somewhere different, even if, in actuality, it’s not all that different from Maine.

Other places we plan on going this summer:
The White Mountain National Forest for a more unplugged camping trip (basically, there are sites you just walk up to and pitch a tent – no room for our pop-up there)

Old Orchard Beach, which is a perennial vacation spot for our predominantly French Canadian family (OOB is THE vacation spot in Maine for French Canadians – I hear more French there than English, for the most part).

Scituate, Massachusetts is on the south shore of Massachusetts (my mom’s old stomping grounds) and is where my aunt currently lives. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she’ll invite us all down for a stay again this summer at her beautiful home just a short walk from the ocean.

My parents’ house is across the street from a lake that provides miles and miles of great boating, swimming and fishing. We love visiting, and it helps that their house is lovely and only 20 minutes away.

Our local beach! It doesn’t get better than a cute little sandy beach on a lake, a picnic lunch, and a few hours of playing in the water, laying in the sun, and then going for an ice cream afterward!

Lady Stuff is Cool

Don’t you love discovering really cool, new things?

I do!

While I was surfing the web last night, stalking different midwives in the area (because, you know, it’s not like I’m obsessed with having another baby or anything), I made a really super neat discovery – in Bridgton, Maine. I already knew about the Birthwise midwives and midwifery school, but I had not realized they had opened a clinic that offers a variety of free (FREE!!!) services, including family planning and fertility awareness education.

As it happens, I’ve just purchase the Holy Bible of fertility awareness, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, and when I read that these two services were offered (again, for FREE) at the clinic, and may have started screaming like a half-crazed, middle-aged lady at Oprah’s Favorite Things taping.

I want to do this so bad.

So, I e-mailed them tonight (because I’m a chicken and can’t make phone calls, plus it was evening and was sure no one would answer, and I hate leaving messages almost as much as I hate making phone calls). I e-mailed to see if I could schedule an appointment, because I’ve gone completely insane and just want to talk to someone professional about making babies so I can feel like we’ll be able to do just that sometimes soon.

I know I’m completely off my rocker and am probably over-sharing (I can see my mom breaking into a cold sweat right over this, saying, “Oh, God, Kirsten, don’t be that person!!!”). But, I can’t help it.

Plus, informing the few who read this blog of this discovery serves another purpose: now other people know about it, too. The free services provided are more than just baby stuff, but also basic lady health stuff. In a time where many programs are under threat that support women in taking ownership over their health, it’s important to know about what different programs are out there and to support them in some way, even if it’s just spreading the word.

Just when I thought we might get an early spring for sure, this happened:

I guess that’s what I get for living in Maine. Poo.

Last week I wrote about a , or, at least, that I had had a revelation. I mean to add more to that this week (thank goodness for vacations – it means I actually have time to do stuff), in regards to what I’ve changed in my parenting and what we’re doing in the home to help reinforce E.’s good behavior. But that comes a bit later (like, maybe later today or tomorrow). For now, I want to reveal  my second revelation.

I do not think it is every day that you are struck with what you believe you ought to be doing with your life. It is more than just what I want to do, but I believe I need to be doing.  So, I’ll start this with an open letter to several groups that are around our state, in particular the .

To all those who advocate for families and children:

When I was 19 I found out I was pregnant. It was not planned. I had just completed my freshman year of college. Thankfully, I was engaged to, in love with, and happy with the father (now my husband of nearly four years). But we were completely clueless. Because I fit in that demographic of young and poor, I was provided with a lot of services, from WIC to a visiting nurse to free childbirth classes. I was also introduced to Debbie, a home visitor from the Children’s Task Force, and her intern (whose name I can’t remember, but she was a total sweetheart).

Debbie came to our apartment once a month from the time I was roughly five months pregnant until last May, when my daughter was three years old. Each visit brought information on how my child should be developing, fun activities for us to do, loads of information on local services and events, and lots and lots of love, respect, and encouragement. While I was lucky enough to  have supportive parents and in-laws who were always there to help us, they were also a good hour and a half away and busy, Debbie was one more person I knew was in my corner, plus, the other support figures in our life wouldn’t have had access to the same information and resources Debbie did.

I often say there are a lot of contributing factors as to why I was able to graduate from college, and there are, but I truly believe that my ability to graduate would have been seriously hindered if not for Debbie and the services she provided. Instead of worrying about exams, papers, and books I needed to finish or read, I would have had to worry about transportation to doctors appointments (I had no car), money for food, housing, and healthcare, how to find a daycare, and, honestly, if I was getting of this parenting stuff right. Debbie offered all the information I  needed and reassurance that I was doing okay. She made me feel good about balancing school and raising my daughter. What she offered, a mix of practicality and kindness, gave me a boost towards success that I might have otherwise never gotten, resulting in a much different life than the one I have now (which is wonderful).  

Simply put, Debbie and those who do her job are amazing.

Thank you, very sincerely, from the absolute bottom of my heart,

Someone’s who’s life has been changed for the best.

And after being on the receiving end of that support and love for over three years, I’ve realized that I need (and very much want) to be on the giving end. I realize, to some extent, that is what I am doing now with my work (which is what happily propels me to work each morning), but I look forward to doing more as the years go on. While I can’t hope to be the person Debbie was for me to someone else, I’d love to make a go of it.

It’s something I think I could do well.

We don’t have T.V.

Well, I should clarify. We own a television (actually, a couple of televisions), but we don’t have cable or satellite and thereby don’t watch a ton of T.V. and we never get a chance to watch the news. I found out Whitney Houston died via Facebook.

Anyway, because I don’t watch a lot of news I listen to it on the radio, mostly NPR. And yesterday I was listening to (a show out of Boston) and they were discussing a really interesting concept: .

Now, you’ve probably heard of and a cash mob takes on the idea of a group of people coming together to pseudo-spontaneously participate in an event and combines it with the idea of something like – except you don’t have the deep discount. The idea, according to the “founder” of the cash mob (Andrew Samtoy – here is a to his blog), is that you are supporting local business partially for the sake of supporting local business, not looking for a discount at every turn. In his interview on Here and Now, he said something like, for the things we want (versus the things we need), we should simply spend the money, not look for a discount every chance we get.

I tend to agree.

Maine is a place that is notoriously unfriendly towards business (ranked 50th in business friendliness according to ), but as someone who has grown-up here, it often feels that one of the few ways for people to make money in this state is by having their own business (if they’re not in education, law enforcement, or health…or all three, with their own business on the side).

We moved from a town that had, I felt, a booming little downtown area, which was helped by the fact that there was a university right there, to a town that has a lot of potential, but isn’t quite the same. I’d love to see that change.

The idea of a cash mob really appeals to me, because, for one, I love to buy local, when I can, and for two, I’m extremely proud of the area we live in, and would love to give a boost to the local economy, even if it’s small.

So, while I didn’t come up with the idea of a cash mob, I think I’d be interested in getting one started for our town/area (our town isn’t very big and there are lots of businesses in the general area that could benefit). I’m not one of those people who particularly revels in getting groups of people together to take on big tasks. While I’m talkative and friendly, I am dead shy when it comes to this sort of thing.

But, when something means a lot to you, you give it a go. I’ve got some friends in the community, and they’ve got some friends, who have some friends, who have some friends. And amongst those friends, there might be some folks who are interested in doing at least one cash mob.

This blog entry is my start and I’ll post it (per usual) on my Facebook page. You know who you are: locals, if you read this and you’re interested, let me know, either here or on Facebook!

As for the rest of you, check out the links I have above or let me know if you have been or will be involved in a cash mob.