PORTLAND, Maine — Where is that kale in your green smoothie from? The carrots in your just-pressed juice? Chances are the ingredients were trucked in from here, there and everywhere.
A handful of entrepreneurs are seeking to clear up such confusion when Farm Truck Juice pulls into town. Set to open Nov. 10 in Portland’s West End, the worker-owned cooperative juicery puts a new spin on the popular health-forward concept of smoothies on demand.
Focused on farm-direct purchases, founder Walter Loeman says the stand will source from 30 Maine farms in season. Organic apples, blueberries, kale and carrots grown from Palermo to Dresden to Camden will be blended with more exotic fruit such as kiwi and roots like ginger. The oranges in his sunny bunny concoction will hail from down south. “We will have six or seven proprietary drinks,” said Loeman, who is no stranger to the Portland food scene.
Loeman, one of six owners/employees at Farm Truck Juice, opened a bakery in Portland in the ’80s and later founded Walter’s Cafe. He sold the fine dining establishment on Union Street years ago and now cooks at Union restaurant at the Press Hotel.
His partners in the business include a full-time forager, his son Joe Loeman, and former owner of the Saco Drive-in Ry Russell. The concept of a juice cooperative is similar to a buying club, where retailers such as the Portland and Belfast co-ops pool resources to buy in bulk.
The impact that Farm Truck Juice, located in a new commercial and residential building on Brackett Street, anchored by Rosemont Market, will have on the local food economy could be significant.
Whether juiced fruits and vegetables are healthier for you than whole foods is an open debate in the medical world. But businesses like Portland-based Maine Squeeze are on a roll.
Farm Truck Juice takes over a small, sleek space and will have limited seating. “It’s a California model,” said Loeman, and a welcome addition to this growing pocket of the city.