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 2022?
This year we will be expanding our organic vegetable offerings year-round in our farm market and wholesale business. Our farm manager, Eric Day, will be expanding our relationships with Royal River Natural Foods, Rosemont Markets, and Whole Foods in Portland. In addition, we will enter into more farmer and food-producer collaborations. Our Farm Market currently offers over 40 local farm and food-producer products. The prepared food menu will include weekly lunch specials for sandwiches, salads, and soups. Baked goods including pies, breads, and cookies continue to be available.
We continued to expand our Farm Market offerings to include more types of organic produce, throughout the entire year, including more greens and winter vegetables for the lean months of November and December. We also added more local vendors and provided a better variety of prepared foods and baked goods. We added a walk-in freezer which has enabled us to offer a wider selection of local meats. Our vegetable donations through the Good Shepard Foodbank the Merry Meeting Gleaners were increased to nearly 3,000 lbs. For three seasons, we worked to provide farm experiences for students from Freeport High School. Additionally, we produced 32Kw of electricity this year with our solar panel system, of which the farm and market used 28Kw.
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 organic 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 selection of organic 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.