Friday, March 29, 2013

A Complete CSA Toolkit


There are always ways to get more out of your CSA share. We will be here all season helping this be the year you learn more about eating locally and in season, more about sustainable growing practices, and more about the Somali, Sudanese, Latino and Burundian farmers that are part of Fresh Start Farms. 

I have compiled a list of links from around the web that i deem extra wonderful in their helpfulness. They range from sites on Somali culture, to the strangest looking vegetables in Maine. Take a look, and let us know what you think:

  • A Trick to Revive Your Wilted Greens or Lettuce:
Amazing cookbooks that show the truely beauty of eating in season:
Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy:
The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Farmer Spotlight: Jabril Abdi

Farmer Spotlight:
Jabril Abdi

“Farming is good. They will know that when their stomachs are empty”

        “I was a farmer when I was young, and now I am a farmer again, I will always be a farmer. If anybody says that farms and farming is no good, they are wrong, and they will know that when their stomach is empty”. Jabril has been farming his whole life. When he arrived in Lewiston, he was told about the project and joined some of his friends out in the field. He already had knowledge, and familiarity with farming, it seemed natural for him to start planting seeds. Although the soil that he digs in here is different, and more consistent than the soil in Africa, which is in places red, white and brown”.
Although he has sold his product before too, here it is different: “Here you put everything out on the table, you have to advertise yourself” instead of just letting your product speak for you. That makes it hard to market here, but his children are involved with his business, especially the marketing end of it. When I asked him what his favorite part of his business is, he saw it all as interchangeable. He plants the seeds, he invests so that he can give at the markets in exchange for financial support. “I am happy to be at the market selling, it means that my investment is working, and people are lining up to support me” Lettuce, spinach, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, are his favorite, and most are new to him, but he knows that if you don’t have those on your table, costumers wont come by. “If my costumers come to my farm, I know they will be happy with what they see. I would love it if my costumers would tell their friends about me, and about our program. Let people support us, because even if you have nothing, you can put seeds into the ground”.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


What's Happening Right Now:

photo by Amy Temple
 Things are beginning to come to life around here. SEEDS, SEEDS, SEEDS! The seed delivery is in (!!!), and the greenhouse is starting to see movement behind the filmy walls.    The soil is being packed tightly into open trays, and tiny little onion seeds are starting to take root. Seeds are being painstakingly sorted into groups, so that farmers can being to plan, plot and plant, always thinking ahead to the growing season, always imagining market days and CSA delivery days, so that each  week has the full diversity of the season, and the full potential of the land, the sun and the rain.
   Soon, every farmer will be at this stage (as seen above), though it still seems such a long way off with these snowflakes that insist on hanging around. Non-the-less, the ground is beginning to thaw, nothing can stop the inevitability of the seed coming to fruition..

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Farmer Spotlight: Batula Ismail

Farmer Spotlight:

Batula Ismail

"I love being part of the Community"

When I asked Batula what was her favorite part of her farming business, she said: “First, the community, I love being part of the community.” She loves working with the public, making exchanges, and having a role in the local economy. Batula came to Maine in August of 2005 and was one of the earliest farmers to join the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project. She was one of three women who started farming together in Lisbon, and are today at the core of the program, often acting as role models for new farmers that are just starting out. Although Batula had a lot of experience with farming before coming to the states, she notes that farming practices are very different, and often more challenging and involved here than in Somalia. The main difference, she notes, is the steps we take here to plant a seed. “In Africa, you put the seed into the ground. Here you plant it first in the greenhouse, and you have to label every tray you use, so that you know where and how to plant things.” She has to familiarize herself with different types and varieties because “at the market, customers ask me what types of vegetables I have, so I have to learn them, then use compost and plant it outside. Because of the labeling I can learn how to test the vegetables, try out recipes and learn how to cook them.”
Batula’s children help out on the farm, and she thinks it is important to learn, as“farming is the future”. Of course they have a choice for work, since they have been partially or fully educated in an English speaking school system, but “this work is   important, I am learning what I am growing, I taste the difference in my food and what is being grown in the supermarkets.” Because of the climate change, and the expectations of her customers, some of Batula’s food traditions have changed since coming here. Eggplant, broccoli, arugula, and Brussels sprouts are vegetables that she has not only welcomed onto her field, but also onto her table. Welcoming the new vegetables means also saying goodbye to some crops she remains nostalgic about. She found one of them in a Somali store, that is like corn but larger, but it did not taste like home.
Batula dreams of her own farm and land, where she can keep all her children and grandchildren safe and nourished. In addition to vegetables, she would also have animals, since “in our country we used to raise animals, to eat and to help with the process of farming”. When I asked for any last words, Batula wanted to say “thank you to the CSA customers, and all those people who live in the state who support small local farms” It’s a good system, difficult sometimes but a good system to be a part of.