Monday, August 21, 2006
Driving up coastal Route 1 the other day, I noticed a handlettered sign saying "Organic Farmstand - Heirloom Tomatoes". That was enough to catch my attention, and my van made a right turn down that two-lane blacktop road nearly all by itself.
What a joy to find real veggies! None of that boring, tasteless stuff you see in the grocery store. These were all picked that morning - the freshness was so wonderful, you could smell the richness of the tomatoes! And I bought several kinds of heirloom tomatoes, had them for dinner, and now will make it a point to buy them as often as possible.
Beau Chemin Farm offers organic vegetables, and if you want to actually see where these are grown, you only have to walk about 100 feet from the stand to see their 18 kinds of historic tomatoes from the 19th century. Also in this large patch are eggplant, a variety of squash, cucumbers, peppers, raspberries and more.
I met the owner Jo Ann Myers, who was digging in her garden and at that moment battling tomato horn worms. Being organic means no spraying of her plants, and she was individually picking off the darned things, a very time consuming task. They are the length of your index finger, and a royal pain to eliminate, since where you find one you'll find a half dozen hidden in the tomato leaves. They look much like the plant stalks, very green and thick, and it's easy to miss them. They are giant caterpillars, not worms, and if they didn't decimate a tomato plant overnight, you might even consider them pretty. I don't, since I lost 3 plants this summer to them, and have barely managed to save the other six plants in the tomato patch. They'll eat all the leaves and some of the green tomatoes too. I detest them.
Anyhow, I digress. The Beau Chemin Farm is unique in that they specialize in not only heirloom vegetables and flowers, but also raise endangered heritage breeds of livestock. They are a working farm that is open to the public for self-guided tours, and they have several different kinds of farm animals, including sheep, chickens, ducks, cows and draft horses.
Now here's something a bit different - take a look at the sign they've posted at the veggie stand about payment. If you cannot make change (and there was plenty of coin change in a small plate on the table), there were other options listed on their sign. These are true Mainer farmers - they work their farmstand on the honesty system - if you don't have the money at the moment, they'll even let you run a tab!!!
This is such a wonderful place to tour, a great place for an afternoon of family fun. I hope to get back soon for my own tour - didn't have enough time before, and now want to get back to see the antique barns and "vintage" animals!