Founding of a Maine Organic Farm
Replenova Farm, LLC was founded in Cumberland, Maine in July of 2015 by Gary Goodrich, biochemist, former biotechnology business owner, and lifelong organic gardener. His dream of developing and operating an organic farm model is an ongoing labor of love. Replenova grows high-quality produce and also develops and sells value-added farm products. Gary’s goal is to provide high wages and benefits for farmworker employees while operating and growing the farm in a sustainable manner.
Nathalie Forster joined Replenova Farm in Spring 2016. Combining her extensive scientific, organizational, and documentation knowledge with her enthusiasm for farming, Nathalie was an excellent fit for the business.
What’s New for 2021?
We plan to continue to expand our Farm Market offerings to include more types of vegetables throughout the entire year. This means more greens and winter vegetables for the lean months from December through February. We also plan to add more local vendors and provide a better variety of prepared foods and baked goods. We will add a walk-in freezer to enable us to offer a wider selection of meats. Additionally, we hope to expand our Farm Market hours for the convenience of our customers. Lastly, we plan to significantly increase our food donations and provide some COVID-safe educational benefits to local schools.
This year, otherwise known as the year of COVID-19, saw many changes here at the farm. This was our first full year in Durham, and it has proven to be a very positive one due mainly to our small, flexible staff and the strong support from the good folks of Durham. We started out having to add an online ordering system for our early spring vegetables. Later in May, we added a touchless payment system for our Farm Market, which opened late that month. During the summer, we added lunch items, including sandwiches and salads made from our farm-grown vegetables and local ingredients. Then in the fall, we added baked goods, including bread, pies, and cookies. We opened on Saturdays for breakfast and lunch sandwiches. At that time, the Farm Market brought in for sale over 20 local farms and food artesian vendors, including meats, cheeses, and other items.
Meanwhile, we continued adding infrastructure by reconstructing our drying house, refrigeration, and more outdoor growing beds. Major wholesale vegetables included Hakurei turnip, sugar snap peas, cherry and slicing tomatoes, and cucumbers. We expanded our Farm Market varieties to include sweet and regular potatoes, cabbage, summer and winter squashes, pumpkins, onions, more greens, kale, celery, eggplant, and herbs. Additionally, we grew and dried our own plum tomatoes. Our donations to Good Shepard Food Bank increased to over 1,500 lbs of vegetables, including rutabaga, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, lettuce, cucumbers, and summer squash.
During the 2019 growing season, we continued to diversify our vegetables, adding Hakurei turnips, radishes, fennel, broccoli raab, basil, and Chinese cabbage. Lemongrass was added to complement our ginger and turmeric crops. For a second year, we participated at the Yarmouth Farmers Market and added rutabaga to the Good Shepard donations. We continue to work with the gleaners.
Solar drier and solar hot water seed starter improvements continued.
Harmonized GAP certification from the USDA was awarded to Replenova in 2019. This certification is a testament to our continued dedication to enhancing our Good Agricultural Practices mission.
Finally, this was a watershed year for us. In October, our farm moved from Cumberland to Durham including the disassembling, moving, and reassembling of five high tunnels.
Meanwhile, on a 17-acre parcel in Durham, we built a barn with an attached, heated market. Now we have permanent buildings from which to run our farm business.
During the 2018 growing season, we established other wholesale vegetable products, most notably sugar snap peas, cucumbers, peppers, and beans. Venturing into the direct-to-consumer market, we began participating in the Yarmouth Farmers Market. Donations to the Good Shepard Food Bank continued, and we began working with the Cumberland County gleaners for our end-of-crop tomatoes.
Solar drier improvements continued, as we narrowed down our variety of choices for dried tomatoes. Improvements were made in our solar hot water seed starter system, inside one of our three high tunnel growing houses.
In our second growing year, we experimented with various vegetable varieties to optimize both early and late-season planting schedules, growing conditions, and harvesting methods. Sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, specialty cucumbers, and baby ginger and turmeric were well received in the marketplace. Our compostable packaging was introduced and found to have some applications. Meanwhile, we have made a commitment to using compostable or reusable containers for all our vegetables and products. We slowly expanded our market partners, and increased our farm scale. Importantly, we began our partnership with the Good Shepard Food Bank and made our first deliveries of cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and cucumbers.
In addition, we continued to develop our large-scale solar drier by adding a wood furnace to assist the drying process at the farm. During the winter, food product development continued at the Fork Food Lab.
This growing season, we earned the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification from the USDA.
Replenova’s First Crops
With the help of four part-time farm workers, the first year’s crops of cherry and husk tomatoes were produced on a half-acre of leased farmland, in Cumberland, Maine. Organically grown, fresh cherry tomatoes were sold to local markets during both the spring and fall seasons. Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) certification was awarded to Replenova in its first year.
During the mid-season, much of the crop was dried. We used a solar-assisted, sun-drying method to develop dried cherry tomato products for cooking, salads, and snacks. As an early member of the Fork Food Lab in Portland, we began to develop and test market dried, value-added products.