New Red Fire Head Lettuce
Ring The Red Bell Radishes
One Measly Zucchini
Notes from the Farm
This is my 16th year running a farm, and 17th year farming... it's not a lifetime of work, but it's been a good chunk of my life to this point.
In the 16 years, the farms have all been in the same kind of mold... They've grown and shrunk in size, and changed marketing philosophies, but ultimately they've all been small organic mixed vegetable operations marketing through a CSA, Farmers' Markets, Wholesale and a Farmstand.
Out of the gate somehow talked my way into a farm manager job in South Tamworth New Hampshire. I'd only worked on a farm one season, the year before, and all I'd been trusted to do was hoe... I had to learn by watching the rest of the crew and the farmers... but despite my total lack of experience and knowhow, the good people at the Community School trusted me to run the adjacent 4 acre farm operation... Mixed organic veggies, a good sized CSA, new farmers' market, a farmstand and some wholesale. I worked there for a few years, and then Gina and I started Alma Farm in Porter.
We modeled Alma Farm after the Community School Farm... and some of the CSA members and Wholesale accounts followed us. We started small, with a greenhouse, watering can and the Ford 4100... and over 7 years, built it up to a more than serviceable operation, with multiple fields, healthy farmer networks, and a diversified marketing strategy that included a pretty hefty (for our size) pig and beef operation.
In the fall of 2014, over in Casco, visiting my folks, we happen to just swing by the Frank Farm (now our farm) to give it a look... not for sale, but not being lived in, and after just a little talking, we struck a deal with the owner and moved our farm from Porter to Casco, and changed our name to the Hancock Family Farm.
The first year or two here in Casco were all about getting resituated... again. But in the last 5 years or so we've seen steady growth in the CSA and farmstand, so much so, that last year we dropped a farmers' market and didn't have one wholesale order... everything went to people right here in Casco (and some of it went to the good people of Kennebunk, our last remaining off farm outlet).
And that's been the goal (and question) all along... can we grow food for people in our community? And each year, it seems we're getting closer to answering, and fulfilling, that goal.
The 17 years don't feel like they're falling in series, in order... they feel like they're all happening in parallel... with each year laying on the last, an overlay image, my farm increasing in complexity with time.
When I sit down to write the third week CSA newsletter, I remember and feel all the third week newseltters... and sometimes they repeat themselves, or exist in the same space at the same time, I'm not sure anymore. It's the same with tying tomatoes, or planting corn, or hoeing the carrots... it's all there with me, each year, each pass... and it's just getting better with age.
Fontina, Fennel, and Onion Pizza
This is one of, if not our absolute, favorite recipes... we include it every year... and there is no good reason not to make it.
1/2 cup Caramelized Fennel and Onion
4 ounces shredded fontina cheese
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Heat oven to 525 (or as close as you can get to that).
Chop one onion and one fennel bulb (and stalks) into small strips.
Heat a pan to high, add some olive oil and the onion & fennel. Reduce heat to medium and cook slowly until they become translucent and caramelized.
On a lightly floured work surface, stretch dough into a 10-inch-long oval or other desired shape. Brush one side lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the caramelized fennel and onions.
Bake for 10 minutes or so until the dough is almost cooked.
Top with cheese and fennel fronds; put back in oven. Cook until cheese melts and toppings are heated through, 2 to 5 minutes.
Kohlrabi is excellent raw, just peeled and sliced. It is great shredded and made into fritters. It is wonderful as a slaw. There is no wrong way to eat it... it is very good.
One of my favorite things to do is to make it into chips.
Very thinly sliced, peeled kohlrabi
Toss kohlrabi with olive oil. Season with salt. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with a nonstick mat. Bake at 250 degrees, rotating sheet, until crisp and deep golden, 35 minutes to 1 hour; transfer chips as they're done to a paper-towel-lined plate. Season with salt.