Friday, June 29, 2012

Spotlight on Farmers: Christine Pompeo

Today begins a series of FARMER SPOTLIGHTS! Each week, we will introduce you to a different Fresh Start Farms grower, and give you the opportunity to learn more about them, what they like to grow and cook, and where you can meet them.

Christine Pompeo came to Maine in 2005 from Southern Sudan. Christine was a farmer in Sudan but she is learning how to adapt to farming in Maine, “where the season is shorter and the climate is entirely different.” Luckily, some things stay the same: “Everything on my farm is done by hand, same as before.” She has been farming with NASAP since 2007. Christine’s philosophy is unwaveringly optimistic: “Try anything that you haven’t tried before. Nothing is impossible. Put your interest into something and you will get results.” Christine’s favorite part about her farming business is watching her vegetables emerge from the ground and so she can bring the vegetables to market to share with her customers.

Try Christine's delicious recipe for Kale with Onions and Tomatoes!

Kale with Onions and Tomatoes


  • 3⁄4 red onion, sliced
  • 2 big bunches of kale (tough stems removed), stems minced, leaves shredded
  • 1⁄2 tomato, diced
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon


  1. In a large deep pan, add 1⁄8” oil and heat over medium high heat.
  2. Add sliced onions and cook until onions are soft and begin to brown.
  3. Add kale in batches and cook until kale has reduced in size by half.
  4. Add 1 cup water and cover. Cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Make a hole in the center of the kale, add diced tomatoes and cover with kale.
  6. Add chicken bouillon.
  7. Cook covered over medium heat for another 20 minutes, until tomatoes and kale are cooked and water has evaporated. Serve with kisra. 

Where to Meet Christine
Come visit Christine and buy some of the featured ingredients in Kale with Onions and Tomatoes! Christine will be at the Riverton School Farm Stand on Thursday, July 5th from 2:00pm -5:00pm, as well as at the Portland Farmers' Market at Deering Oaks every Saturday from 7:00am -12:00pm.  See you there!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

More farmers, more markets!

Summer is upon us and Fresh Start Farms producers are beginning to sell at more and more markets throughout Maine.  This past Saturday, Mohamed Abukar returned for his 3rd year at the Bath Farmers' Market, and Christine Pompeo and Santa John brought their beautiful lettuce and arugula to the Deering Oaks Market.  On Friday night, the wash station at the farm was bursting with eight different farmers and their families preparing for the biggest market day of the week.

Check out the photo series below of the irresistible produce shortly after harvest!

Produce fills the tables at our harvest station on Friday evening.

A close up view of the beautiful radishes, salad turnips and beets that herald the arrival of summer.

Salad mix and other fresh eating greens overflows their baskets.

Mohamed takes a brief moment to look up at the camera while washing lettuce for his first trip back to the Bath Farmers' Market.

Christine shows off her beautiful red butterhead lettuce, destined for the Deering Oaks market.

It's not just produce that fills the harvest station -- there's people everywhere!

The end result: Hawa sets up her farm stand in Saco in anticipation of a busy market day.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Farm Stand at Whole Foods Market

A big thanks to Whole Foods Market for their support and enthusiasm!

Starting one week from today - JULY 2 - Whole Foods Market will be hosting our first Farm Stand of the season!

Every Monday from 1:00pm -5:00 pm, Fresh Start Farms growers Esperanza and Kustancia will be setting up shop at the Whole Foods Market farm stand site. Below is a brief introduction to these lovely ladies, but do come out and speak to them in person!

The Farmers
Esperanza at Market
Esperanza Echeverria has been with NASAP for almost ten years, since the project started. She is originally from a small mountain town in Guatemala called Sivilia. On the food she grows, Esperanza says: "I use my vegetables in my cooking all the time. I haven’t lost my cooking customs. I’ve also learned new vegetables from other participants, like okra and black eyed pea leaves, which the African farmers grow."


Kustancia Ounde is used to farming in South Sudan, where she is from. Here in Maine, farming and marketing keep Kustancia happy and engaged: "I like farming in Maine.  My favorite part of farming here is when I have vegetables and I can go to the market to sell them and talk to the people who come to the market." She is loving the new vegetables she is learning about and says: "I eat everything I grow."

Please stop by the Whole Foods Market food stand starting July 2nd to meet Esperanza & Kustancia and pick up your fresh vegetables!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

We're at Saturday markets!

Despite the cool weather and the heavy rains, the Friday evening harvest yielded an amazing amount of beautiful produce from the farm.  Several farmers set off for their first Saturday market of the year as early as 4:45 am the next day, heading to Saco Farmers' Market and Kennebunk Farmers' Market.  In the next few weeks, more farmers will be going to Deering Oaks and Bath.  Keep your eye out for Fresh Start Farms as the summer kicks into gear!

Hussein had a beautiful array of fresh greens and radishes to start out the season.

Seynab and Batula are back at Kennebunk for their 4th year!

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's a family affair!

Saturdays on the farm are full of more than just sprouts.

Before markets start up, many Fresh Start Farm farmers bring their whole families out to the farm on Saturdays, sometimes setting up their market tents at the edge of their fields to create shade for the youngest kids.  It's impossible not to feel transported to Africa right there in the Maine countryside, as oldest sons and daughters head into the fields to weed the crops, while the littlest children play at the edges of the field with an auntie close by.  Sometime in the midafternoon, everyone breaks to eat together, gathering around a common bowl in the shade.  At times like these, you can see how much this isn't just a business -- it's a way of life, and here in Lisbon, farmers have a chance to share it with the next generation.

In this picture, Hussein's wife and young children enjoy the fields in early summer.  His kids may not be getting too much work yet, but they are already learning the rhythms of the farm!

Customers are a vital link in making this story possible.  This time of year, a tremendous amount of work is being poured into the fields to grow the produce for markets and CSA.  Thank you, as always, for your support!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rosy at Market!

Fresh Start Farms has officially entered the market season! 

Come visit Rosy every Tuesday from 11am to 1pm!
Martin's Point, 6 Barley Road, at Cook's Corner in Brunswick.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Unseasonably long rains certainly made their mark on our farm!

Farmers are resourceful and have no choice but to ride the wave of fluctuating weather patterns and unexpected production twists. Plants are resilient by nature but when seeds are washed away or the soil doesn't have enough air, it can be costly and time consuming to replant and repair. 

Farmers are replanting due to crop loss.

Here, water puddles on Rosy's farm almost a week after the storm.

That's why it's so important for farmers to be able to rely on their community. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is designed so producers and consumers share the risks and rewards of food production together. It guarantees that in situations like these, farmers can cover the costs of damage from storms, pests, etc. We are so grateful for the support of our community and will look forward to continuing our season on schedule and stronger than before!