This season has sprouted!

Hello friends and family of Whatley Farm,

A bit more snow fell today, but it's been melting bit by bit as we march forward starting plants in our greenhouse, seeding greens in the unheated tunnels, and harvesting spinach and kale...Here's a sure sign that it's spring inside the unheated high tunnel we call "Big Baby" (it's 192' long):


The mizuna which overwintered has flowered, and not only are they tasty (we sent some flowers to the Brunswick Inn for their Tuesday dinner), but they are starting to buzz with hover flies (a beneficial insect that eats the pesty aphids) we leave most of the flowers as habitat. We've also started seeding alyssum and dill in the greenhouses for beneficial habitat.

A mizuna flower is a nice touch at breakfast, too...add some of our roasted red peppers, spinach, shallot, sausage and duck eggs...and there's a real farmers' breakfast! Sometimes. Sometimes we just eat granola and blueberries. Coffee always.

We got a lot done in the greenhouse this week. Here's Nick pitching in wiring a small electric heater for a tented bench (which along with our germination chamber has reduced our March propane usage so far by almost 100%). And assistant manager Kate planting up ginger and turmeric for pre-sprouting:

It's been a good week! Hope to see some of you at market this weekend. Some of you family members I'll be seeing in Texas next week, for my last hurrah before spring sets in (in earnest). Kate and my parents will keep it together here on the farm and at market.



Nor'easter again!

Howdy y'all,

As I write this the snow has finally stopped falling here at Whatley Farm, and it blew all over the place and stuck to the walls it was so "pasty." By my reckoning, somewhere around 15-18"...not too shabby! It is wet and heavy stuff, and we've got a lot more plowing to do, but it's tough when the ground is soft like it is right now. Either way, we're gonna get dug out and make it to markets this weekend. Before the storm, I picked lots of great spinach and kale! 

We made pizza last night during the storm, with spinach, roasted red peppers (available frozen at market), roasted cherry tomatoes, basil pesto (from our frozen home supply) and some very tasty blue cheese from Spring Day Creamery...due to technical difficulties I'm not able to upload that picture right now, but trust me when I say that pizza with local, organic ingredients can't be beat. We're making nachos tonight with our Hot Heirloom Salsa, peppers, spinach, and venison. Comment and tell us what you're cooking up this storm.

I'll leave you with a picture of our spinach in the tunnel, with my footprints in the bit of mud on the concrete...It reminded me of something I thought I had read a long time ago in Masanobu Fukuoka's One-Straw Revolution..."The best fertilizers are the footprints of the farmer," or something like that. A quick search attributed that quote to Confucius, Aristotle, and various others. So while I don't plan to get to the bottom of who said it first, I believe they are wise words, and with that I'm going to go put on my boots and move some more snow! 




Your Ticket to Tomato Soup!

Howdy friends,

It was a beautiful week on the farm! Lots of sun, and this delicious bit of gold made with our Tomato Puree:


Just a couple of different tomato soups we had in the last week, with blends of our Red and Gold Tomato Purees ($5.95 at market). The puree is really "Purity of (Tomato) Essence," with only enough lemon juice added to bring the pH down for added salt, and a perfect consistency for soup!

I want to introduce you to Kate, who came to us last year, and stayed on all winter helping me get ready for the season! Kate will be our assistant manager this season, in charge of greenhouse management, harvest, wash station, crew leading, and Tuesday market downtown. Here she moving some pallets of materials around the other day:


I'll leave you with is a fresh image of our completed (today) greenhouse interior wall, with a new passage in between warm and cool zones. We are ready to get seeding the end of next week.


Have a great week, everybody!


Greenhouse projects continue, and Duck Eggs are back!

Hello my friends,

First off, we know spring is coming because the ducks have started laying well again, and the spinach is growing! We will have plenty at market this weekend, and soon you will start seeing them in stores again, such as Morning Glory in Brunswick, Royal River in Freeport, and the Portland Food Co-op. Here's a wonderful frittata that Laura made for lunch one day this week, with roasted peppers, kale, parsnips and kohlrabi/carrot slaw on the side:


We are getting ready for a great season in the greenhouse, with many farm-built upgrades! We are permanently walling off a portion to be a heated zone, with this simple wall which will have a roll-up door:


Nice work on a sunny day! Then we are building a Germination Chamber, which is basically a sweat box for newly seeded trays. The chamber we are building will hold 60 trays, which will germinate much faster and more uniformly in the box than out in the greenhouse. Basically, you have a thermostatically controlled heating element in a pan of water, which fills the chamber with 75-degree mist...Here's part 1 completed:


It's a 24" x 48" x 80" rack, which we will made more shelves in using metal conduit...then we bolted rigid foam insulation to the frame of the rack...spray foamed the seams. Next we'll install the equipment and wire it, then put a set of rigid foam "french doors" on the front...then we put in the corner, plug it in, and hope it works! We got some ideas for the project from Farm Hack, an open-source forum for farmers who need "farm-tolerance" (i.e. cheap) solutions to expensive equipment.

Plenty of spinach and kale at market this week, as well as root veggies, onions, shallots, garlic, duck eggs, pork, roasted red peppers, and salsas! Try the Tomato Puree--it's just like drinking fresh tomato juice!


Ben and the gang

Kale is back, Salsa is in, and Lots of Projects are Happening!

Hello folks,

It's been a while since you heard from Whatley Farm in this newsletter...lots has been happening, so let me try to bring you up to speed! I (Ben) was off to Germany with my girlfriend Anna Blank visiting her family for a few weeks, and we returned engaged to be married this Thanksgiving. We're excited to be planning our wedding now, in addition to planning the farming season! Here is a pic of us standing in front of the Karlsruhe Castle:

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Right now fresh out the ground we are picking some sweet kale, and spinach. Come to Friday market for your best shot at getting some of this stuff now, which is in limited supply until spring comes:


We also recently launched a line of canned goods, which are a collaboration between our farm and Brunswick's community cannery Turtle Rock Farm...owner/chef Jenn Legnini made Heirloom Tomato Salsa (in medium or hot) and Salsa Verde (a solid medium with our tomatillos and serranos), using all organic produce from our farm. She also made us 2 tomato purees, one in red and one in gold (using yellow and orange tomatoes)...these are very fresh-tasting strained tomato juices, which can be enjoyed fresh (for breakfast or Bloody Marys), easily made into soup, or cooked down into a sauce. Here is a pic of the salsa line-up alongside a pack of our Frozen Roasted Peppers, which we fire-roasted, cooled and vacuum-sealed at her commercial kitchen:


And of course we still have onions, shallots, 2 kinds of garlic, rutabaga, kohlrabi, and parsnips from cold storage, as well as lots of tasty pork, and (DUCK EGGS ARE BACK) well as carrots in a rainbow of colors from our friends at Harvest Tide Organics. Come by market and find yourself something to eat :)

We always have some projects going, and here is a pic of a couple of them we knocked off this week. One is a pair of seedling carts which will ride in the truck to farmers market with us and display seedlings, the other is an ergonomic potting soil mixing platform which Kate built:


That may be all the news fit to print for now, but I'll try to send out more regular updates now that things have settled down after my big trip and engagement.


Ben Whatley, the whole family and crew of friends


Cold sets in and sweetens the greens!

Hello friends,

As I write this, cold air is settling seems that it's not going to get above freezing for a few days! We harvested lots of greens before the freeze up, which had been sweetened by lots of cold nights already. We will have lots of bunches of green curly kale, as well as some of this deliciously sweet Red Russian Kale loose in bags:


Another green which we will have is called Mache, aka Corn Salad...It is a nutty, sweet green with a buttery, soft texture! We love it as a salad on its own, but it is great mixed in with other greens, too. Last Saturday at Robinhood Free Meetinghouse, it was featured along with lots of other food from our farm for a Scandinavian Holiday Dinner cooked by Chef Courtney Dute. We had a great time attending, tasting the dishes, and toasting the grog!


Another name for Mache is Feldsalat, which is German for "field salad" or "field lettuce." It got that name from being found in winter wheat fields in Germany when not much else was growing. Speaking of Germany, I (Ben) will be traveling there for the next 3 weeks, so you won't be hearing from me until mid-January! I'll be visiting friends and my former host family from exchange student days in the Northeast, and my girlfriend Anna's family in the Black Forest region (Southeast). We'll be sure to eat our vegetables and other delicious things and tell you about it when we get back!

Come see us this Friday at the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market for a special holiday market. We have guest craft vendors, special cafe offerings, and fun music from Swinging Bridge! Here were a few of us there last Friday:



You won't be hearing from me until mid-January, but Whatley Farm will keep attending farmers markets as usual. Kate's doing the picking, Logan and Sam are running the markets, and Nick and Laura are taking care of the ducks and the snow removal!

I'll say Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year now! Talk to you next year--


Solar electric now helping bring us food to market!

Hello friends,

Besides the exciting greens and things coming out of our unheated, passive greenhouses this week to market, we now have 45 solar panels generating power to run our barn! This is where our shop, wash station, crop storage, Ben's apartment, and more is housed. Here is a shot of the finished project:


The hardy greens from our unheated greenhouses are peaking for 2017, so get em while you can! We've got lots of kale, lettuce, spinach, spicy mix, minutina, mache, and some chicories like puntarelle and escarole. Best chance to get them is at Friday's Midcoast Winter Farmers Market from 11-4 at the Topsham Fairgrounds. We'll save some for Saturday in Brunswick, but they sell out quickly. Here's Nick eating a big kale salad!


Other projects we've been working on include firewood for our 3 households, insulation for Nana Maimie's new house (family drywalling party this weekend!) and mulching garlic. Here's Kate forking out straw onto the 1/2 acre of next year's seed garlic:


Best wishes from the family and crew here at Whatley Farm!

Markets Moving (mostly) Indoors for the Season!

Hello friends,

We had our first hard freeze last night, and luckily it's coinciding with our farmers markets moving indoors for the season! Well, mostly indoors. We do have 2 more Brunswick Farmers Markets downtown on Tuesdays from 8-2, but otherwise our indoor markets start up this week:

Starting Friday 11/10, the Midcoast Winter Farmers Market at the Topsham Fairgrounds runs from 11-4. This is a great producers' market featuring a variety of farm-fresh goods, live music, and a special Market Cafe featuring locally-sourced hot lunch!

Starting Saturday 11/11, the Brunswick Winter Market at Fort Andross (Cabot Mill, next to Flea Market) runs from 9-12:30. Find us on the corner near the entrance!



With the first frosts of the season comes the rush to get the frost-sweetened parsniips out of the ground before it freezes too hard to pull them! This was one of thousands pulled up yesterday. We will have some at market this weekend for you.



We hope you're as excited about the cold weather coming on as we are! It's a much needed season of rest, with shorter work days and more time stirring the soup pot. We recently made a duck soup with fresh herbs, ginger, lemongrass, onions, and garlic. Oh, and one of our first Honeycrisp apples. It's a lot of work, this lifestyle, but the meals make it worth it.

Don't be a stranger this winter! Come see us at winter markets.


Ben, Laura, Nick, Kate, Logan, Sam, and Hannah

Plenty done before the rain!

Well, that was some well-earned rain! We planted garlic in dusty field conditions on faith that some moisture had to eventually fall from the sky, and it did. We planted somewhere around 15,000 cloves, and for us that fills about half an acre. Here's a pic of Sophie breaking up seed one chilly morning last week:


We do still have some nice Inchelium Red seed garlic for sale at market. It's a beautiful variety for braiding, with rich, warm (not hot) flavor. And there's plenty of smaller bulbs for eating in all seven varieties. Here's Kate with the lineup at market:


Back on the farm, we are getting our high tunnels cleaned out of summer crops and planted to late spinach, lettuce, and onions for overwintering. We're also doing some projects, which you can see below. Here's the view of my Nana's new house from the compost pad. We're turning it into a real family compound over here!


Come see us at market this weekend for flavors of fall! Delicata and acorn squashes, kale, spinach, Hakurei turnips, sage, rosemary, and mint, lots of delicious pork, duck eggs, garlic scape pesto. We won't be roasting peppers, but we went ahead and roasted all that we had left last weekend and froze them! So you can enjoy them anytime.


Ben, family, and crew

Munchkins, Apprentice Butchers, et al

Hello folks, 

It's been an exciting week at the farm! Just today we had a group of about 30 pre-schoolers with parents from the Forest Play group come out for a visit. That was loads of fun to see their curiosity and excitement. Here is a picture of them looking at our ducks:



Sunday we had our first pork side butchery workshop, which was really successful! We cut sawed, cut, trimmed, and made sausage from one of our Large Black pigs. Thanks so much to our market manager Logan Higger for sharing his expertise and leading this class!


Our pigs for market are back from the butcher, and we are loaded with everything from bacon and sausage, to smoked shoulders and hams, roasts, chops, you name it we probably got it. Full selection at market starting Friday. And of course we're picking lots of fun veggies and herbs for market! We still have peppers and tomatoes, husk cherries, and tropical things like ginger and turmeric, and delicious fall crops are coming in, too. We have 5 different kinds of Japanese mustards this week...try em all. Here's Kate and Sophie showing off some of the greenery:


This Saturday Ben and Nick are playing a show at the Robinhood Free Meetinghouse in Georgetown with their band Rough Sawn. Starts at 5, hope to see you there or at market this weekend! more details at