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 farm worker 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 is an excellent fit for the business.
Replenova’s First Crops
With the help of four part-time farm workers, the first year’s crop of cherry and husk tomatoes was produced on a half-acre of leased farmland in Cumberland, Maine. Organically grown, fresh cherry tomatoes were sold to local markets for both 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 using a solar-assisted sun drier 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.
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 was 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.
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 continued and we began working with the Cumberland County gleaners for our end of crop tomatoes.
Solar drier improvements continued, while we narrowed down our variety choices for dried tomatoes. Improvements were also made in our solar hot water seed starter system, inside one our three high tunnel growing houses.
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.
What’s New for 2020?
With our new farm digs, we are planning to greatly expand the diversification of the farm operation. In addition to retailing more than twenty crops in our market store, our wholesale business is expected to increase. Tomato production will expand to accommodate our current and new dried tomato products. Our goal is to increase our Good Shepard donations and establish new relationships with local gleaners.
Last, but not least, our farm market will serve take-out foods, featuring Replenova farm produced vegetables together with other local farm and supplier products. The offerings will include soups, salads and sandwiches. We plan to keep it simple, with few choices, very fresh ingredients, and daily to weekly menu changes. We plan to open in May, Wednesday through Sunday, 7:00 am–2:00 pm. Stay tuned for details.