Garlic is all in, and so are the tomatoes!

Hello friends of Whatley Farm! I’ve been super bad about updating news here on the website and email list. For much more up to date info and pictures of what we’re up to, please follow us on Facebook or Instagram. But I’ll do my best to bring you up to speed!

Garlic is mostly in, just a couple of new varieties that finish later than the rest still left in the field. But 90% of the crop is picked and drying down in our new shade house. It was a big push through the heat, but we made it. Here's Lars from our crew harvesting garlic…for days!


And I picked for days as well, but I lack his youthful energy (he’s only 15) and I had to take a break on my beach towel:


Meanwhile we’re picking lots of tasty tomatoes! And it’s perfect weather for a truly vine-ripened beauty like this German Johnson:


It’s a rhubarb leaf in the picture for shade, in case you wondered…just happened by with tomato in hand.

Come by and see us 4 days a week in Brunswick! Tuesdays and Fridays 8-2 downtown, Wednesdays 4-7 at Flight Deck Brewing, and Saturday mornings at Crystal Spring Farm. And we anticipate we’ll be roasting peppers in 2 weeks, so stay tuned!

Ben and the gang

Greenhouse projects firing up!

Hi folks,

I promised my next update would be about the farming, not just the jamming…so here’s a glimpse at our latest greenhouse project:


We have adapted some of our greenhouse benches (tables) to be heated by radiant hot water. They are enclosed in a little “greenhouse within a greenhouse.” What you see on the left in Nick laying out the tubing on the benchtop. All the way on the right is me plugging in the tubing to the hot water distribution system. And in the middle you’ve got Kate rolling down the greenhouse plastic over the hoops. Tonight is the first night that we will have some trays hanging in there. We’ll monitor how they do and tune up the system as we go. The goal is to have it really dialed in for tomato seedlings in a few weeks, so we can keep them warm and happy in there, while maintaining low greenhouse air temperatures, and saving energy!


With the longer days, the spinach growth has taken off and we’re finally able to harvest enough of this sweet stuff to please most of our weekend shoppers (Midcoast Winter Farmers Market every Friday 11-4, Brunswick Winter Market every Saturday 9-12:30). And the ladybugs were loving it in this shot from Valentine’s Day. We release them somewhat regularly to eat aphids, but this year we’re starting another strategy called aphid “banker planting.” Right now we are actually raising aphids in the house on some barley plants inside a “Bug Dorm” (net tent). The species we are raising only feed on grasses and grains, but having them will allow us to also grow a population of parasitic wasps called Aphidius colemani, and they eat the green peach aphids that are a pest on our greens! Next time hopefully we’ll have some action to show you from those banker plantings.

Until then!


Whatley Brothers stepping out!

Hi friends,

Many of you probably know it doesn’t take much to get me (Ben) to pick up the guitar at market, and it usually it’s getting me to put it down and get back to work that’s the thrust of the issue…well I wanted to let you know that I’ve put together a little band with my brother Dad, my dad Nick, and the mandolist Steve Frens. We’re playing lots of hits from the golden era of country, bluegrass, and Western swing, as well as some of the 60s hippie country that my brother and I have loved singing together for many years. This Saturday 2/9 we’re playing a special concert here in Maine:


The Robinhood Free Meetinghouse is a really special place in Georgetown. An old church on the National Register of Historic Places, you can hang downstairs with us at the casual bar and restaurant, then head upstairs to the beautiful sanctuary for the concert. We’ll take a set break and have a drink downstairs, then head up for a second set of music. The soup you can get on Saturday will feature our farm’s butternut squash and onions.

More info and tickets at

In other news, we’re busy at work on the farm getting the greenhouse up and running for the year, with our new hydronic bench project (radiant heat under the nursery plants, a sort of greenhouse within the greenhouse which will save us fuel). We’ve started our first seedlings in the barn on heat mats, then it’s on to the germination chamber in the greenhouse, then to these benches, and finally when we’ve run out of space there, back to our big greenhouse that we’ve always used. But hopefully with significantly-reduced energy use.

Next time we’ll have some pictures of baby plants growing in the greenhouse!



Winter is settling in here...

Happy New Year from all of us at Whatley Farm!

After a relatively warm and sunny holiday season, winter is finally settling in here. Lots of ice on the ground and a few days where it looks like it won’t get above freezing. But the ducks are bedded down with straw in their hoophouse, and the greens are tucked under double row covers…and we’ll keep the home fires burning.

The new flock of ducks in their winter yard on the compost pad

The new flock of ducks in their winter yard on the compost pad

We are doing lots of planning for the upcoming season, including some exciting greenhouse efficiencies and improvements. In an effort to save on heating the airspace of our propagation greenhouse, we are designing a hydronic bench system, with hot water circulating right under the plants. And we are exploring using hot air tubes under row covers to blow air right next to young tomato plants, which could allow us to start them a month earlier and bring early tomatoes to market :)

A preview of what’s to come…

A preview of what’s to come…

And of course we are harvesting all the greens we can in any given week and bringing them, along with all kinds of other winter produce, duck eggs, and pork, to our markets every Friday and Saturday. Friday is the best chance to get greens this time of the year. We bring the largest selection there. On a sunny day like tomorrow is going to be, the greenhouse at the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market is the place to be:

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To our local friends, we hope to see you around! And all the best to all the rest :)

Ben and the gang

New winter market opening this Friday!

Hello Whatley Farm community!

We are very excited for Opening Day of our new winter farmers market at Brunswick Landing! This Friday, November 2nd from 11-4, come see the new home of the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market. We built a greenhouse next to Turtle Rock Farm’s commercial kitchen, and we will be having great food and fun in there every Friday of the winter season:


On the farm, we planted a lot of garlic as usual! 18,000 little cloves, which fills about 3/8 of acre (in 30 beds 100’ long, 3 rows per bed, 6” apart in-row)…this is only a slight increase over last year in terms of total quantity, but we are planting a lot more of the variety Music, as well as expanding a great new variety which we haven’t offered for sale yet: Georgian Crystal. It’s one of the biggest and most beautiful bulbs we’ve ever laid eyes on…stay tuned.

And the Red Sox won the World Series. Here’s my change-up grip on the last bulb we broke up to plant


We’ve had a few frosts, and started digging some parsnips! They’re sweet and tasty. Lots of good stuff from us and our fellow vendors each week all winter long. Here’s where to find us the rest of the year:

Tuesdays 8-2 until Thansgiving: Brunswick Farmers Market downtown

Fridays 11-4 starting November 2nd: Midcoast Winter Farmers Market, 39 Burbank Avenue, Brunswick

Saturdays: Just one more market at Crystal Spring Farm this Saturday 11/3, then starting Saturday 11/10 at Fort Andross, it’s the Brunswick Winter Market.

Hope to see you around!


Springing into Fall!

Hello friends,

Just wanted to give you all a little update on the farm happenings, now that summer has given way to fall. We’ve been busy harvesting, cleaning and storing crops for winter, and planting greens for the winter markets…plus we got lots of delicious and nutritious Tamworth pork back! This was a nice evening for the pigs a while back:


You know, we say about the pigs, that they have great lives at Whatley Farm, with one really bad day. Not to make light of the fact that we’re slaughtering animals for food, but to remind everyone that we do our utmost to make the pigs comfortable and happy, and to allow them to be pigs as nature intended, rooting in earth and breathing fresh air…

The Tamworth breed of pigs also produces an exceptional quality of meat with just the right amount of fat. We enjoyed a slow-cooked shoulder roast the other day, and we’ve been getting great reviews on the pork chops too! We have a full selection of cuts at market, including nitrate-free bacon and ham steaks.


See the resemblance there? That’s 3 generations of Whatley boys hanging out at market last Saturday. We had a nice visit with Grandpa Ted from TX, and Uncles Sandy and Chris. This gang headed up to the Common Ground Country Fair together in one car, and I’m sure you can imagine we were glad to get out and stretch our legs after the ride…

Have you heard that our Midcoast Winter Farmers Market is moving to a new location at Brunswick Landing? We’re very excited about the partnership with Turtle Rock Farm, who is hosting us at their commercial kitchen at 39 Burbank Avenue. We are constructing a heated greenhouse which will be connected to the main building by a covered walkway, and which will hold many of the vendors. Others will be inside, where you will find the Midcoast Market Cafe featuring lunch options and Big Barn Coffee. There are other exciting things happening on the campus too, including an outdoor pizza oven being constructed by Turtle Rock Farm with students from Harpswell Coastal Academy. Come check us out every Friday from 11-4, starting November 2nd.

Here’s our farmer-crew building the greenhouse for the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market:


I’ll leave you with a smile from our friendly crew cleaning garlic today! Come see us some Tuesday or Friday downtown, or Saturday at Crystal Spring Farm.



Seed garlic ordering is open, and lots more!

Hello friends,

It's been a typically exciting and exhausting August since I last wrote! We've had a full-time job harvesting (garlic, onions, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and the rest), but we've been squeezing in as much else as we could, such as planting, weeding, and cleaning garlic! Our online store is now open for seed garlic ordering. Help us spread the word that we will ship our organic, disease-free stuff anywhere in the US. Here's Russian Red:


We are making lots of value-added products for the the winter, too. Turtle Rock Farm and cannery made a double batch of our Heirloom Salsa (Medium, with Jalapenos, Sweet Onions and Garlic) today. The Hot version with Serranos is next, along with lots of Salsa Verde (this year in Medium and Hot). Turtle Rock did a big batch of Tomato Puree (Red and Gold), and we're roasting peppers now at market too! If things work out, we're heading into the kitchen next week to roast and freeze cherry tomatoes for winter sales, as well.

They say if you blink, you might miss the Maine summer, but here we are in the middle of a heat wave! Ben has been working on a greenhouse over at Turtle Rock Farm's new campus at Brunswick Landing, which will be the new home of the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market! We decided to pick up our stakes and move over to this exciting new redevelopment project at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. Here's Joe Murray from Dragonfly Cove Farm, and me, pounding ground posts this morning!



We'll be open Friday, November 2nd. In the meantime, don't forget summer markets which run right on through. We'll be roasting peppers this Saturday!



Garlic crop is curing, and so is our mud oven!

Hello friends,

It's been a busy couple of weeks bringing in the garlic crop and building this monumental mushroom of a pizza oven:


It's not done yet, but with one more Saturday we'll get a final plaster coat on it, and start digging the sand form and slowing firing it...with any luck, we'll be cooking pizza this weekend!

It was a really fun process, led by our good friend Danjo Paluska. We had family and friends helping every step of the way.

We sweated it out all week bringing in load after load of garlic, and when all was said and done, I celebrated on top of the last load!


The crew got it all laid up to cure in the shade house, and there it will sit for a few weeks before we start trimming and grading it.

In other news, raspberries are done but now tomatoes and blueberries are in! Summer keeps rolling on, and we're doing our best to keep up and enjoy every moment.

Ben and the Whatley Farm crew

Midsummer Fruits and Flowers

Hello friends,

Well time sure does fly in the summer! I haven't written since the solstice, and we've been busy doing all kinds of things...planting, weeding, harvesting, and building. Here a few snapshots:


Those are baby zucchini with nice, open flowers attached...we have been selling zucchini flowers to a couple of restaurants, and occasionally at farmers market too. These were a special treat for Enoteca Athena, the Brunswick Inn, and a few lucky market customers. Stuffed with goat cheese, lightly battered, and pan-friend. Mmm good. 


This is Emma with some red leaf amaranth, which we picked for the first time today! It is a mild-spinach flavor, which is tender and oh so pretty. We ate it as a salad today, along with some lemon-miso summer squash and pesto pasta...By the way, did you know we have some great deals on fresh basil right now? 1# bags of clean tops with very little stem. Makes a lot of pesto! Freeze some like we do, leaving out the nuts and cheese until you take it out in the winter.

And of course, we always have other projects we're trying to get to...our masonry pizza oven build is on track for next weekend. I've been cleaning up some old timbers and getting them ready to frame up the shed, which will cover the oven. It's going to be fun.

One last thing I'll tell you about is this Hazelnut planting we're very excited about. For a few years, we have been talking to our neighbors at Campo di Fiori nursery about getting some of their Hazel selections, and finally it happened. These will make the lower border of one of our fields. There are 8 bushes so far, and we are planning on putting in some more in the fall to finish the row. Maybe someday we'll harvest some nuts, and coppice some material for a wattle-and-daub wall, or something fun like that...Here is the Abram, Shawn, and Colony putting the plants in the ground:


Until next time, enjoy!

Ben and the gang

A lesson from nature, on the solstice

Hello folks,

Happy Summer Solstice! I hope you're enjoying the sunshine in Maine on this longest day of the year...Anna and I are headed out later with our pup Willie, to swim and picnic on the bay in Brunswick. We've all been busy on the farm, planting and picking greens and things like this:


There are some nice little cucumbers in the bottom right! More coming in every day, along with the zucchini...yellow squash is not far behind. And there are these summer-loving cowlicks of the garlic plant:


Those are of course the garlic scapes! Tender and snappy little curly Qs which make a mighty fine pesto. Or toss them in olive oil and salt and grill them. We'll be making a big batch of pesto soon. Look for it at market by mid-July!


I alluded in the title to a lesson from nature, and it relates to the image above of a beaver pond in our woods. Since it hasn't rained much this year, our irrigation pond can't keep up with the watering needs of our crops. My dad had the idea to go looking for water down in the gully near the fields. What he found was that a whole network of beaver ponds, and he hatched a scheme to pump water from the bottom pond into our irrigation pond, in order to recharge it. It has worked out amazingly. Even when we pump this bottom pond almost empty, it refills within a couple days. The chain of small ponds are even inspiring us to look at our landscape differently, and we are thinking about imitating the beaver and creating networks of small pocket ponds, which can fill and overflow into lower ponds...Thanks to the Beaver, nature's environmental engineer, for the lesson! 

Hope everybody has a great start to summer.