Articles by Lauren Abbate


Packages of L.A. Lucky Brand basil seeds recalled for possible health risks

By Lauren Abbate on May 24, 2017, at 2:08 p.m.
Anyone who has purchased these recalled products should dispose of them.
Jackie Robinson has been looking into buying her parents farm, Leaves and Blooms Greenhouses in Dover-Foxcroft. Robinson has been running the farm for seven years, but she is unable to get a loan because of defaulting on her student loan payments. She is working on repaying her $20,000 student loan debt, but at this point she has very few options to keep the farm in the family.

Student debt could cost this Maine family the farm

By Lauren Abbate on May 22, 2017, at 3 a.m.
The 175 acres of forest and farmland that’s home to Leaves and Blooms Greenhouse on Route 15 has been in Jackie Robinson’s family for four generations. But because of the damage that defaulting on her student loan payments has done to Robinson’s credit, it’s uncertain whether the farm will continue in the family for a fifth generation.
Kate Garland, horticulturist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, talks about how to plan the a possible layout for a small container garden.

No yard? No problem: How Mainers grow gardens in small spaces

By Lauren Abbate on May 17, 2017, at 12:15 p.m.
It’s a good first step into growing your own produce and gives you the freedom to plant in whatever space you have.
Prudence the 5-year-old sow rests comfortably in a pile of hay at Cornerstone Farm in Palmyra. Owner Hanne Tierney said they produce pastured pork products, certified organic vegetables and eggs at the farm.

Local meat in Maine is a mere farmer away

By Lauren Abbate on May 12, 2017, at 12:02 p.m.
“The big thing for people is knowing that the animals are treated with respect and that they’ve had the best life they can possibly have. So [customers] are getting a really high-quality product that was responsibly raised.”
Letters from three Mainers are included in the new book "Letters to a Young Farmer," which gives advice and inspiration to young farmers through a series of letters written by food and agriculture figures.

‘We really, really need you’: Maine farmers pen advice book for novice growers

By Lauren Abbate on May 11, 2017, at 1 a.m.
“Without you, we can’t make the changes that so many of us believe are critical to reforming our food system, and we certainly can’t reverse the devastating damage that has already been done due to our changing climate.”
Some of the solar panels installed on buildings at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association fairground in Unity.

How Mainers keep finding new sources of energy

By Lauren Abbate on May 08, 2017, at 1 a.m.
“There is a stewardship ethic that people share and they realize that our kids and our grandkids will inherit the Maine that we leave them.”
Troy Howard Middle School Garden Project coordinator David Wessels shovels leaves on the compost pile  at Troy Howard Middle School school's garden.

This series on reducing, recycling will help you stop wasting food

By Lauren Abbate on May 04, 2017, at 8:26 a.m.
The first ever Maine Composts Week, a series of events being held between May 7 and May 13, will show people what they can do to cut down on food waste.
Food scraps, leftovers, lobster bodies, rabbit droppings and chicken bones

How to build successful composting habits

By Lauren Abbate on May 02, 2017, at 9:33 a.m.
Successful composting is all about balance.
Cat Randall at her Bangor home. A few years ago Randall started with six chickens, and now she has 60. Some of them are laying hens, but she also has unique chickens that she keeps as pets.

Want to raise backyard chickens in Maine? Here’s what you need to know

By Lauren Abbate on May 01, 2017, at 5:56 a.m.
“Once you get into it, you’re like, ‘Well, I can add a couple more, it’s no big deal,’” Randall said. “I mean, we definitely went a little overboard. […] But that’s what happens. You start by getting one, and then you’re like I want this one and this one. They’re cool.”
Troy Howard Middle School seventh graders Hayden Brewer (left) and Jason Bartlett weed the raised beds in the school's garden in a May 2016 file photo.

How to tackle your garden’s weeds and pests this season without using chemicals

By Lauren Abbate on April 27, 2017, at 6:16 a.m.
More Mainers are looking for organic ways to remediate weed and pest problems in their gardens rather than using chemical herbicides and pesticides.
Albie Barden of Norrigewock is among the few people who call themselves cornkeepers. He has been preserving and trying to bring back native strains of flint corn that were grown in many Maine and New England regions by Native Americans. Barden has grown and distributed seeds from roughly 12 strains of flint corn over the years.

‘An amazing, amazing food:’ A Maine man’s mission to preserve native flint corn

By Lauren Abbate on April 24, 2017, at 11:43 a.m.
“This is not a commercial venture on my part. It’s a restoration of a staple food to this region that was just an amazing, amazing food.”
Gray-New Gloucester Middle School teachers Morgan Kerr (left) and Stephanie Enaire (right) have been awarded the National Excellence in Teaching About Agriculture Award.

Two Maine teachers get national recognition for nature-based teaching methods

By Lauren Abbate on April 18, 2017, at 10:12 a.m.
“It’s really important that students have an understanding of how the world works around them, and food and agriculture is just such a great way to bring them that understanding,” Morgan Kerr said.
Lauren Dehlinger, of Cushing, commonly barters eggs from her chickens for other goods and services she is in need of.

For Mainers, bartering isn’t just convenient, it’s tradition

By Lauren Abbate on April 14, 2017, at 10:06 a.m.
“[Bartering] has brought a lot of people into our life. It’s not just saving money it’s making new connections with people that make the same lifestyle that we do.”
Sonja Twombly pour her goat's milk soap mixture into moulds at Lally Broch Farm in Frankfort.

Making soap from scratch a wholesome alternative to storebought

By Lauren Abbate on April 09, 2017, at 7:22 a.m.
A boon to using goat’s milk for the base of the soap, as opposed to water, is that the milk is more easily absorbed into the skin.
Matt Wagner of Insource Renewables (left) and Joas Hochstetler of Backyard Buildings talk about the collaboration that resulted in producing buildings that also serve as a platform for supporting a solar array.

Collaboration between Amish builders, solar company results in ‘solar shed’

By Lauren Abbate on April 08, 2017, at 7:51 a.m.
With Insource Renewables bringing the solar expertise and Backyard Buildings bringing the construction know-how, customers are able buy a solar-outfitted shed that can power their entire home.
A goat is seen in the barn at Lally Broch Farm in Frankfort.

Goat’s milk the secret ingredient for Maine farm’s homemade soap

By Lauren Abbate on April 07, 2017, at 7:15 a.m.
“We’re a no-kill farm and all the animals that live on the farm need to have some way of paying their rent, and this is how our goats do it.”
A farmer stacks vegetables at the Bangor Farmers Market.

New federal produce safety rules focus of public talk

By Lauren Abbate on April 01, 2017, at 9:53 a.m.
With new federal produce safety guidelines slated to go into effect as soon as 2018 for some of the state’s largest farms, there are questions among Maine’s food growers about how and if these regulations will impact their farms.
Tristan Noyes (right), executive director of Maine Grains Alliance, hangs out in the back of the Bankery with owner Matt DuBois, a grain alliance member, on Monday in downtown Skowhegan.

Maine farmer aims to spark grain renaissance

By Lauren Abbate on March 31, 2017, at 6:42 a.m.
“We have a real vested interest in promoting and making people understand why having a healthy grain economy is so important and it’s something that Maine can lead in.”
Matt Bell tops off jars of beets with brine at Thirty Acre Farm. Besides traditional sauerkraut, they make a variety of other fermented vegetables and hot sauces. They grow the large majority of the organic vegetables on their farm in Whitefield.

Maine farmer turns fresh produce into funky ferments

By Lauren Abbate on March 24, 2017, at 11:02 a.m.
“My hope was to just provide nutritious food to people. I think we’re definitely doing that by growing nutritious crops and them giving them further value through the fermentation process.”
Bartlettyarns newest owner, Lindsey Rice, watches as the mill's old 1948 mule spins yarn.

Yarn of a different century: Traditional spinning takes center stage at Maine mill

By Lauren Abbate on March 21, 2017, at 9:18 a.m.
“I love the old machinery. It does a fantastic job. We’re producing something more of quality than quantity.”