This week we wanted to introduce you to one of our favorite farms, The Buckle Farm in Unity, Maine. Owners Jim and Hannah are a very hard-working husband and wife team who grow beautiful organic products.
Here is our First Farmer Interview:
Russo’s: What is your favorite product to grow and why?
The Buckle Farm: We love to grow Snap and Shell Peas, Potatoes, Flowers, Tomatoes, Carrots, Garlic, Winter Squash and a wide variety of onions. These are our biggest plantings on the farm, we enjoy them because we all work hard on them together. Planting, harvest wash and pack require a full team to get them to market. Team spirit is high during the working of these crops and we can really see the fruits of our labor! Often they are the crops most enjoyed by our customers and that always makes it great.
Russo’s: What is the hardest part about farming in Maine? What are the hardest products to grow?
The Buckle Farm: The hardest part of farming in Maine is the lack of local markets for all the food being grown up here. We have one of the fastest growing populations of young and new farmers. While the land here is affordable and the support it very strong, it is still not enough to sustain all the farms in the state. The shorter season is a challenge, but there is so much research on season extension and seed varieties for Maine. This research has allowed small farms like ourselves to be more successful.
Russo’s: How does your work get separated out and who is in charge of what?
The Buckle Farm: The work is done by a team of 5. Hannah and Jim do all the planning and coordinating the business needs, Along with the harvesting, and managing the fields. We do less of the weeding and picking these days but still spend a good amount of time with our hands in the dirt. Frances, Ryan and Max are the field hands. They do most of the dirty work and almost anything on the farm. This winter we did three farm planning workshops with them to include everyone as much as possible. We do not put people in change of any one specific task and have a morning meeting everyday to list out the tasks and assign them to the crew as a group. We keep a rotation of jobs so no one feels too burdened by something they do not enjoy. This also keeps us all learning throughout the summer.
Russo’s: The Russo family members are huge animal lovers. How important is it for you to have a farm dog?
The Buckle Farm: Lemmy the farm dog is the real boss and we love having her here on the farm. She has a few specific jobs on the farm one of which is keeping the ground hog population down. Her natural instinct as a Blue Heeler is to heard and protect, so she spends a good amount of time with our pigs watching them and moving them up and down the fence lines. Lemmy loves our crew and greets them all as they come in the barn each morning and for lunch, we think she is trained to know they are eating in the morning and there are crumbs to grab! Her sweetness is the best, she can tell when you are having a bad day and makes you feel better. She like to chase a ball and would keep you for hours if you let her.
Russo’s: What makes you the most proud of your profession?
The Buckle Farm: It is honest work, work you can be proud of, people respect and is an important foundation to life. Delivering to our customers is when it all becomes worth it. People smile when they see what we have grown them and enjoy the freshness and flavor of the products. We are proud that we employ three people, pay them well and support them at work all we can. If we can spend the rest of our days on the farm with people who enjoy working here and growing food for people who enjoy it, we will have done something right.
Russo’s: How did you meet Tony Russo?
The Buckle Farm: I meet Tony Russo first in 2004 working managing Allandale Farm in Brookline. I was struck by just how much produce went through the warehouse and his passion for the products. When I moved on from Allandale he continued to buy what crops I had. He has certainly shaped how we have grown our farm, Tony's in-depth knowledge of produce, and sales has nudged us to grow more of certain crops and begin to really specialize in the wholesale market.
Russo’s: Where was your first farm located? Was it organic?
The Buckle Farm: The Buckle Farm was first started in Dighton, Massachusetts (2011) and we were there for two and a half years. We started the process of being certified there but did not farm long enough for the three-year waiting period to obtain certification. The farm then moved up to Unity, Maine, where we were able to obtain certification on some of the ground here and some ground we had leased. We are happy to say that the entire farming operation is certified organic. We get certified by The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), great organization and a place we volunteer our time. Our farm is limited in size, so we lease a few other fields around our neighborhood, putting more and more ground into organic production, MOFGA has been a huge help in getting this land into organic production. We are also very happy to say that our farm is in the Forever Farm program in the state of Maine. This ensures a future for our farm, keeping it from development and kept in agricultural production for eternity. Along with the organic rules we have many to follow in the Forever Farm program. Yearly inspections and long-term planning to ensure the future of this wonderful piece of land. We would not choose to farm any other way.
And if you have read all the way to the bottom of this page, we have a special for you! Encourage three of your friends to sign up for this newsletter and use the below coupon for a Special Newsletter Discount of $5 off of a $50 purchase or $10 off of $100 purchase anytime Monday-Friday thru July 31, 2018 at Russo's! Cut out the below coupon with our special code (or show it on your phone) and present it to a Russo's cashier for your discount!
Have a great weekend!