I first met my friend Mike Robertson at the Game Loft in Belfast. Mike is the Game Loft’s operations director and he had hired me a few years ago to do some cooking for their after school program ( a job I loved!). Mike is truly an amazing person. Aside from being excellent at his job at the Game Loft, he is curious, adventurous, and he is the kind of guy that likes to follow his dreams. What dreams, you ask? Check out Mike’s story here as he peddles across the country. I am truly honored to know Mike, to call him a friend, and to have the privilege and pleasure to follow him on his epic journey. You should follow along as well…..you’re about to see the country through the vision of someone incredible!
There is a brief window during the season when we experience a slight lull…in the gardens and in the nursery. It happens just after school lets out in late June and continues until the 4th of July weekend. We appreciate the small reprieve. The garden’s beds are planted, weeded, and looking great, the flow of customers is steady but not as busy as in May and June, there’s a calm before the ‘storm’ that the now ‘high summer’ brings. From here on in however, our pace picks up again. The nursery gets re-stocked with late season offerings and with plants that simply needed replacing from earlier sales. Now is the time we do most of our propagating for the next season, this involves collecting seed, taking cuttings, and dividing plants from the stock beds. The greenhouse is cloaked in shade cloth and a misting system gets set up ( in the greenhouse)to provide a constant and controlled amount of moisture. In the vegetable gardens, the bounty to be harvested and preserved is coming fast and furious….summer squash, cucumbers, kale, chard, greens, snow peas and shell peas, beets, and loads and loads of broccoli. Every meal is the essence of freshness, plates of homegrown chicken surrounded by steamed veggies and an extra large green salad. I begin to eye the squash patch with concern, a day of not picking could lead to one of those gigantic zucchinis or an overly bulbous yellow squash. Harvesting the squash patch becomes a secret competition between me and the cucurbits. I am determined to harvest each and everyone before I need the wheel barrow to haul them away. I’m determined to pick them when they’re small and incorporate them into meals before they roll to the back of the fridge and become wobbly. Right now I’m winning, we’re roasting squash, grilling squash, steaming squash, and using them in our favorite squash fritter recipe. So far so good. If you come for dinner more than once a week and think to yourself “squash, again?”, please don’t say it out-loud. I’m on a mission and only looking to feed ‘Team Squash’ while I’m at it. Be happy that your squash fritters include smoked Gouda and that your grilled squash wedges are peppered with a nice spicy dry rub. Eat and be happy.
It’s at this time we begin glancing forward to what’s ahead. Yes, we’ll still be harvesting and preserving well into September, our work at propagating will continue, mowing and weeding and moving sheep fence a constant until the leaves begin dropping, but there will also be firewood to bring in and hay to be gathered and stored, meat birds processed and sheep brought home. It’s not about not living in the moment or in the present (we always hope to manage this as well!), it’s about the cycle of the season and how our lives here are connected to the natural rhythms of time. We’re part of it and I like that. Well, it’s 6:30 a.m. and I must leave you now, my Patty Pan squash and Costata Romanesco zucchini have had well over 12 hours to gain inches and it’s time to rein them in!
And while out in the garden stalking the vegetable bounty….we sure are stopping to smell the flowers!
Howdy from Texas! My name is Anna Guillory and I’m a WWOOF volunteer (what’s WWOOF? Check that out here!) who has spent the last ten days at Fernwood Nursery with my lovely, lovely hosts, Denise and Rick. I recently graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in Art Education. I wanted to take the time to WWOOF the summer before starting a job teaching high school art and I decided that Fernwood was the right fit. I first heard about WWOOFing from my cousin at the disinterested age of 14 and never thought I’d be doing it now. Through school, I became interested in learning about sustainable living and organic gardening and I was making artwork centered around these ideas. I thought WWOOFing would be a good way for me to inform myself as an artist, as well as bringing back some insights to my future classroom and students. Increasing one’s knowledge of gardening, the biology of plants, and how things grow, etc. can often give us a much better understanding of how we look at things in the world. My WWOOF experience has helped accomplish this and being here at Fernwood has inspired me to look at things in the natural world more closely. I found Fernwood Nursery back in March when their WWOOF site had posted that they were looking for volunteers. Being an artist, I was really interested in how Denise works with her sheep. Fibers and textiles are something I have always wanted to learn more about, and I was equally interested in the farm and nursery aspect. It was a win-win! I’ve heard beautiful things about Maine, and wanted to see another part of the States. All that being said, it has blown me away! Aside from my interests in coming to learn and experience farming, it has been an incredibly healing place for me to be before beginning a new season of life after college. Working with Denise and Rick and learning from them, as well as just being on their property, has grounded me and been a rejuvenating experience. I had almost thought I wasn’t going to be able to come to Maine but Denise and Rick were flexible with my change in dates, and have proven to be ever too generous with my needs. I’m glad to know they will always be people I can count on and available to me. Denise asked if I would write 10 things I’ve learned during my stay. If you do the math right, that’s one thing a day, but I know there are many more things I could list and I am certain I will only continue to build upon them after returning to my life in Texas.There are also some photos included of some great outings and projects, so enjoy!
1.Ephemeral plants bloom in early spring and often go dormant in the late summer months ( this I did not know!!)
2.How to make a hyper-tufa vessel ( I’ll be carrying a mini hyper-tufa vessel home with me, yee ha!)
3.Weeds can be edible ( like purslane and lamb’s quarters and chickweed!!) and super good for you!!
5.How to make lemon balm pesto with freshly picked garlic scapes
6.Felting with wool from Denise’s Blue Face Leicester sheep
7.Skirting a fleece
8.The importance of seed saving ! (oh my, how very, very important! I watched this while at Fernwood, SEED: The Untold Story)
9.What a hula-hoe is and how to use it ( and boy did I use it!)
10.Not all flying things ( bugs) are harmful, only some. (and only if you develop a phobia and run like the dickens to escape them)<
In addition, while here in Maine, I also traveled to Rogues Bluff with a Teardrop trailer, hiked a local trail (Haystack mountain) and picked wild blueberries, learned to shingle an outbuilding on the farm, learned some plant propagation techniques, harvested vegetables and herbs, and had the pleasure of mingling with some of the local community and to discover how welcoming and friendly Maine people are!
Now back to Texas where I’ll be certainly pondering all the wonderful experiences and things I learned during my time in Maine. My wish is to call upon all of the valuable lessons learned from my WWOOF experience and to apply them as best and often as I can in my life back in Texas. Have a great summer, my Maine friends!
Our fairy house building class was such a success last season we are offering it again this summer! Join us here at Fernwood Nursery for a two-part pottery class building miniature homes for your resident garden gnomes or fairies. During the first session, participants will design and construct their fairy homes using clay. Add a window box, tile your roof, or attach shutters, be creative! Once your houses are dry, we will fire them and bring them back to be glazed during the second session. After the glaze firing your pieces will be ready for installation! We will be using slab building and pinching techniques to make miniature shelters, perfect for any ‘little folks’ who may be wandering your woodland or gardens. Along with guidance on how to build and design out of clay, Denise will discuss how to best design around your new piece of mini real estate. Materials and supplies are included…plus, as with most all classes here at Fernwood, tea and scones will be served!
Saturday, July 29th, and Saturday, August 12th, 1:00 to 3:00.
If you’d like to join us, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (207) 589-4726
You can check out our ‘classes and more’ page for details
And…who doesn’t like saying, “please come down to the arbor and meet Adlumia fungosa”? Sounds like some exotic and mysterious character in a romance novel, yes?