When Betsy Lundy was pregnant with her now-18-month-old daughter, Zoe, she and her husband Zeth had some specific ideas about how they were going to take care of their baby during her formative years: Eating healthful, organic foods from local providers, as often as possible; using green, nontoxic cleaning products in the house.
And, instead of disposable diapers that would cost nearly $3,000 over the course of three years and create mountains of waste, Betsy and Zeth decided to spend $300 right off the bat and buy enough reusable diapers to take care of Zoe until she’s potty-trained.
“We’re very conscious about how much waste we generate and the impact our choices have on the environment, so this just seemed like the best choice for us,” said Betsy Lundy, 34. “Yes, we have to do more laundry. Yes, it’s more labor-intensive. But the money we save and the low impact we have is totally worth it. They’re light years from the old cloth diapers people used in the ’50s. There aren’t any pins. They’re far, far more sanitary. They don’t leak. And they’re just so cute.”
In addition to cloth diapering and baby care, Zeth and Betsy, both Orono natives, have lots of other DIY interests — home beer and wine making, home cheese making, preserving foods and green home design and cleaning, to name a few. When they decided to have Zoe, they knew they wanted to move home to Maine from Boston and raise her here. Job opportunities were scarce, though, so the couple decided to combine all their interests under one roof and open a retail store.
The result of their work is Central Street Farmhouse, located at 30 Central St. in downtown Bangor, a two-story, one stop shop for folks who want to try some new DIY projects. The shop opened quietly last week, but a grand opening party is set for 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6.
“All the things we’re interested in, we wanted to bring to the store,” said Zeth Lundy, 33. “Downtown Bangor had everything we wanted for it, too.”
Zoe, a bright, energetic toddler, most often wears Fuzzibunz brand cloth diapers, which come in an array of colors, and can be purchased in either the Perfect Fit style, which is sized, or the One Fit style, which has adjustable snaps that can be enlarged as the baby grows. Both styles have a soft, microfleece inner layer which touches the baby’s skin, and a durable, waterproof outer layer. Central Street Farmhouse will stock Fuzzibunz, along with other brands including Softbums, Sprout Change and Rumparooz, which can also be made with velour, bamboo or athletic fabric.
There are few other places to buy cloth diapers in Maine, so Central Street Farmhouse fills a void for eco-minded parents and those wanting to save money. Cost is a big reason some parents switch from disposable to cloth; savings can number in the thousands of dollars, or more if a family has two or more children. Parents also may be concerned about the chemicals contained in disposable brands and what effect it could potentially have on their little one. And then there’s the sheer numbers: If a baby is changed five to six times a day, that’s between 1,800 and 2,200 diapers in a year.
“It’s a crazy amount of trash that’s created,” said Betsy. “With just a little more effort, you’ve saved lots of money and made a huge personal impact on how much waste you generate.”
The downside is the cleaning and care of the diapers. There’s a lot more laundry to be done, and each diaper must be cleaned out before it’s laundered — though parents can buy a diaper sprayer, which retails for around $45 and connects to your toilet tank for easy removal of waste. If you’re able to do laundry on a daily or every-other-day basis, you may need to buy only 15-20 diapers to start with. If you have less time for laundry, you’ll need more so you don’t run out. Individual diapers cost between $15 and $40 each, so it’s a minimum $225 up front cost.
“It all depends on how much money you can spend on diapers, and how much time you can spend doing laundry,” said Betsy. “It’s a big investment at first, but all you’re doing is paying up front and saving later.”
In addition to the cloth diapers available at Central Street Farmhouse, there are plenty of other items in their baby boutique. Nursing bras, baby slings and baby carriers will be for sale, and the Lundys plan a series of workshops on home diapering and picking the right baby carrier.
The couple also plans workshops on home brewing, winemaking and cheese making. The shop will carry an array of homebrew supplies, from basic kits and bottling equipment to Maine-grown organic hops, imported hops, malts made in both Maine and elsewhere, yeast and other ingredients. For winemaking, Central Street Farmhouse will have kits and wine juices, and set ups for homegrown wine made from elderberries, blueberries, apples, dandelions or lilacs grown right here in Maine.
Zeth Lundy got his start homebrewing last year when the couple managed a homebrew store in Farmington for the first year of Zoe’s life.
“I kind of dove right into homebrewing, without knowing much at all,” said Zeth. “It’s now a huge part of my life. We’ve always got a homebrew going.”
And then there’s the cheese. The shop will carry dairy products from farms all over eastern Maine, including Grassland Farm in Skowhegan, Kennebec Cheesery in Sidney and Sweetwater Farms in Whitefield, as well as farm fresh eggs. Sweetwater Farms will also supply canned vegetables, soups, jams and other products. Cheesemaking equipment will also be available for the DIY enthusiast interested in trying their hand at making their own goat cheese, mozzarella and even cheddar or gouda.
There are lots more things the Lundys have in mind for their new business, but for now, they’re off to a good start. If they need to convince Mainers of the benefits of cloth diapering, they have a great spokesbaby right on the premises who will be sporting her Fuzzibunz every day.
“Zoe is our spokesmodel,” said Betsy Lundy. “She’s the cutest spokesmodel ever.”
Central Street Farmhouse will offer a workshop on Cloth Diapering 101 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16, a workshop on Beer Brewing 101 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, and a Baby Wearing Workshop on baby carriers set for 3-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20. For more information, visit www.centralstreetfarmhouse.com, or look them up on Facebook.