News and blog

Posted 10/15/2012 9:23am by Katrina Karlsen.
Dear Online Farmstand Shopper,

Saturday morning's frost may have meant the end of peppers and other summer crops in the fields, but the fall harvest season hasn't even reached its peak at Ararat Farms!  Upon inspection, our beets, carrots, kale, salad mix, broccolini, and other fall crops weathered the light freeze just fine.  In fact, their flavors have only now started to reach full maturity, as they produce sweet sugars in their sap that act as antifreeze. 

But wait!  For those of you lamenting the passing of summer, we still have tomatoes in our greenhouse! 

Click here to visit our online store.

Sincerely,

Emilia, Jed, and Ray
Posted 10/8/2012 9:45am by Katrina Karlsen.


Dear Online Farmstand Shopper,

With potential frost on the horizon, it is time to bid adieu to the summer crops.  Before we all snuggle in to a pantry full of beets, cabbage, carrots, et. al., we are offering one final chance to taste the sweet crunch of colored peppers.  This week, we've got sweet carmen and golden bell peppers, as well as cauliflower, mixed saladette tomatoes, rainbow carrots, broccolini, and much more.

Click here to visit our online store.

Sincerely,

Jed, Emilia, and Ray

Posted 10/1/2012 9:57am by Katrina Karlsen.

Dear Online Farmstand Shopper,

The first week of October is here, and we are in the thick of of a very busy fall harvest season.  The broccoli is heading up left and right, and we've got some crowns more than 8" across - real county fair winners! 

Add that to a great lineup of beautiful rainbow carrots, mixed color beets, red and green cabbage, tomatoes, salad mix, and more, and we can definitely fill your shopping bags this week!

Click here to visit our online farmstand.

Sincerely,

Jed, Emilia, and Ray

Posted 9/24/2012 10:55am by Katrina Karlsen.

Dear Online Farmstand Shopper,

"Summer's almost over, harvest drawing near, most of the cauliflower eaten by deer . . ." so reads one of Ray's favorite books.  So far, our cauliflower has escaped such a fate, and is starting to head up nicely.  Sweet and crunchy when eaten raw, tender when cooked - we're happy with this year's crop.  Add cauliflower to broccoli, scallions, rainbow carrots, peppers, and more this week, and we've got quite the lineup.

FYI - we've still got great tomatoes coming out of the greenhouse this week, but they won't last forever, so load up now if you've still got that tomato hankering!

Click here to visit our online store.

Sincerely,

Jed, Emilia, and Ray

Posted 9/17/2012 10:50am by Katrina Karlsen.


Dear Online Farmstand Shopper,

Red cabbage is one of our favorite fall vegetables.  You just can't beat its crisp texture and sweet flavor, with just a little bit of mustardy heat to complement the complex sugars.  Fall brings out the best in cabbage, and the cooler weather we've been having has bolstered the flavor (and the nutrition) of our fall cole crops.

But - don't worry!  For those of you who lament the passing of summer, and still want to hold on to those vestiges of long evenings and warm days, we've got tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, and all sorts of summer crops for you as well!

Click here to visit our online stand.

Sincerely,

Jed, Emilia, and Ray

Posted 9/3/2012 11:01am by Katrina Karlsen.


Dear Online Farmstand Shopper,

The nights are dipping into the fifties again, and we're putting up notes to remind ourselves to shut  the greenhouse at night to keep the tomato leaves from curling up with the cold.  September is here, and with it that first taste of cool fall weather to come.

This is a great season for gardening in Maine, a crossroads where summer and fall crops meet and mingle at the farmstand.  This week we've got all the summer favorites, like tomatoes, sweet corn, and colored peppers, along with fall standards like cabbage, kale, beets, and carrots. 

Click here to visit our online farmstand.

Sincerely,

Jed, Emilia, and Ray

Posted 8/27/2012 9:14am by Katrina Karlsen.

Dear Online Farmstand Shopper,

This week, we've got something old and something new: the return of salad mix and a one week window of sweet corn.

We don't grow very much sweet corn, as it is a big challenge to grow organically.  Instead, we make one planting, and enjoy a week of pure, unadulterated sweet corn gluttony each year in late August.  This week, the pure white kernels will be sweet and crunchy; by next week, they may be starchy.  PLEASE NOTE: because it is certified organic, each ear may have a worm near the tip.  While not sightly, this worm causes little damage to the actual ear and its flavor.  Simply cut off the end of the ear to remove the worm.  A small price to pay for insecticide-free corn.

And, finally, our salad mix makes its return, following a stretch of sweltering heat that rendered it unable to grow.  We're back on track with this crop and should have it through the winter.

Of course, we've still got tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, onions, and a whole additional cast of characters to round out your shopping cart this week.

Click here to visit our online farmstand.

Sincerely,

Jed, Emilia, and Ray

Posted 8/20/2012 10:49am by Katrina Karlsen.

 

Dear Online Farmstand Shopper,

The summer continues, and so do the summer crops!  This week, we've got plenty of tomatoes - both our usual saladette tomatoes, and canning tomatoes at a reduced price.  Add those to garlic, onions, snap peas, green bell peppers, eggplant, beets, carrots, and more - and we've got a quite lineup for you this week!

Click here to go to our online store.

Sincerely,

Jed, Emilia, and Ray

Posted 8/13/2012 9:50am by Katrina Karlsen.

Dear Online Farmstand Shopper,

Over the past two weeks, we've been gorging ourselves on purple eggplant from the garden.  After an initial bout with potato beetle that set it back, the crop rebounded, and is now producing nicely. 

Sliced and salted, it soaks up aromatic herbs and oils, combining them with its buttery texture.  It is a real treat as a side dish, main course, or both.

In addition to eggplant, we've got plenty of snap peas, beets, tomatoes, colored carrots, and more for you this week!

Click here to visit our online stand.

Sincerely,

Jed, Emilia, and Ray

Posted 8/10/2012 10:16am by Katrina Karlsen.


Dear Ararat Farms Community,

This past week, Ararat Farms was featured in an article in the Knox Village Soup.  Written by Jenna Lookner, the article describes our efforts to get our certified organic, nutrient dense produce into local Hannaford's. 

We've always felt that more people would buy local produce as long as they could find it in places they already shop.  That's why we started selling to natural foods stores in the area last year.  This year, we're still continuing to work with these loyal customers, while expanding our wholesaling business to reach a larger base of local shoppers.  This week, we shipped our first orders of beets, kale, and parsley to Hannaford's in Rockland, Camden, and Belfast.

Click here to read the article in the Village Soup.  The full text also follows.

Sincerely,

Jed, Emilia, and Ray

 

Local farm brings organic produce to Hannaford

Lincolnville — Shoppers at Hannaford supermarkets in Camden, Rockland and Belfast will notice a new addition to the produce aisle in August. Thursday, Aug. 9, Ararat Farms in Lincolnville will make their first wholesale delivery to stores in Camden and Rockland. Vegetables from the organic farm have been available in Belfast Hannaford since Aug. 2.

Husband and wife team Jed Beach and Emilia Carbone run Ararat Farms and live on the premises with their young son. The couple has been working the land since Garo Armen purchased the 135-acre farm — formerly Kelmscott Farm — in 2010. Armen, who is vegan, asked Beach and Carbone to grow a small garden for his family and guests so they would have fresh produce on their frequent visits to Maine. The couple proposed Armen let them grow a larger garden and sell produce on a small scale. Carbone said he immediately agreed.

"He got more excited and we got more excited, now we're selling to Hannaford," Carbone explained. "He's a good leader, he fills in where we don't have knowledge."

Farming knowledge is something that Carbone and Beach seem to have plenty of. Both Mainers, the couple met while attending Hampshire College and later worked together on an educational farm in Natick, Mass. After returning to Maine in 2009, Beach went to work at Aldermere Farm while Carbone became a caretaker on the property where they now live and work.

Beach said Ararat Farms is presently on year two of an approximately three year "start-up period." Last year they farmed about 1/5 of the land they're now using. Next year the acreage used for crop production is expected to rise again. Several large greenhouses will allow Ararat to grow produce year-round, providing a local alternative to organic produce often shipped from California and Mexico during Maine's lengthy off-season.

"Part of the advantage of growing for a wholesale market is you can grow what you grow best," Beach explained. "[Like] things that grow better in New England in a cold, wet climate."

He said Ararat Farms' top crops include beets, kale, salad mix, carrots and snap peas.

Carbone said the Ararat Farms property boasts a young fruit orchard with a diverse mix of fruit trees, she and Beach are also experimenting with planting crops such as garbanzo beans, buckwheat and flax.

In 2011, Ararat Farms offered a community supported agriculture option, but Beach and Carbone found the CSA model and vegetable production for the wholesale market are not conducive since wholesale growth means focusing on large scale production of more streamlined crops for market. Instead, they offer an online farmstand, sending out an email every Monday after their weekly "field walk." In the email they detail what's available and take orders. Customers can pay using Paypal or a debit-style bond they've pre-purchased, then pick up their orders at the Ararat farm stand, Lincolnville Farmer's Market, or State of Maine Cheese Company. The produce offered via the online farm stand is available at wholesale pricing.

Carbone and Beach said their intention at Ararat Farms is not to compete with small, local farms. Instead they hope to offer produce to augment home gardens and CSA shares. They hope to make local, organic produce affordable and accessible in addition to offering a year-round selection.

"A lot of people would buy local if it was accessible in the places they already shop," Beach said.

He said Ararat Farms keeps prices competitive because they save on transportation costs — organic produce that might have been shipped from California or Mexico is instead trucked from a few miles away.

"The rise in food costs the past few years has been to our advantage," he said.

Beach is quick to point out that Ararat Farms sticks to strict grading standards, assuring that their produce meets USDA grade A standards. Additionally, the farm received organic certification from Maine Organic Farmers and Gardens Association and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification earlier this year.

"We want to win on quality, not just on feeling good because you're buying local," Beach explained.

Ararat Farms will continue to supply their wholesale customer base, which includes several local restaurants, Fresh Off The Farm, Good Tern Co-op and Belfast Co-op, as they expand into Hannaford.

"First and foremost it's important to us to maintain relationships with the local community," Carbone said.

She noted Ararat Farms exhibits at Lincolnville Farmers' Market and continues to cultivate a "community presence." They also hire local teens to help with field work — presently they have seven teens on their summer harvest crew. Carbone said she and Beach didn't set out to run an educational farm but since they both enjoy farm education, teaching their young staff has become an informal part of their self-imposed charge.

Ararat Farms delivered 24 bunches of beets to Belfast's Hannaford on Thursday, Aug. 2, and by Monday, Aug. 6, the beets had sold out, they said. Carbone and Beach said a larger re-order had already been placed on Tuesday, Aug. 7. The couple said Ararat Farms has aspirations to be a Maine organic label available in  Hannaford stores statewide.

"Now we're small change, if we play our cards right we want them to notice us," Beach said.

Courier Publications reporter Jenna Lookner can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at jlookner@courierpublicationsllc.com.