Hanne Tierney's son Sam Tierney (left), 10, hands a flower to Caitlin Curcuruto while she was pruning tomato plants in one of the greenhouses at Fail Better Farm in Etna. Sam found the flower while playing outside and brought it in the greenhouse to show it to everyone. Buy Photo
When the vegetable harvest was done for the day and the animals were taken care of, Clayton Carter (second from left) and Hanne Tierney set to work to prepare a meal as everyone gathered at Cornerstone Farm for dinner. With the exception of a couple of things all the ingredients for the meal came form the farms. Although very tired, Hanne and Clayton were in high spirits after a productive day and gladly prepared a meal. The arrival of the summer means that the farmer's markets are at their busiest. Planting, harvest and taking care of the animals often requires 12 to 14 hours of work each day. Also pictured are Edith Tierney (left) and MOFGA apperntices from right Caitlin Curcuruto, Marissa Diebolt, and Carole Mapes. Buy Photo
Five-year-old Graham Carter helps his father Clayton Carter carry a basket of garlic as they were loading vegetable to go to a farmer's market in mid-June. Clayton, a former software developer, raises organic vegetables at Fail Better Farm in Etna. He grew up on a farm and thought he wanted nothing to do with again. Eventually he changed his mind and after completing a MOFGA apprenticeship he eight years ago, he started his own farm. "I still do computer work in the winters but by the early spring, I'm itching to get my hands dirty again and get going with planting." Buy Photo
Hanne Tierney (left) and her daughter Edith set up their stand at the Waterville Farmer's Market in mid-June. The cooperation between Cornerstone Farm in Palmyra and Fail Better Farm in Etna shows best on market days. Not only they help each other on the farms but sell each others' product and produce. "The farmers know their product best and people ask very detailed questions sometimes," Hanne said. Buy Photo
Planting celeriac on a rainy mid-June day at Fail Better Farm in Etna. "This is a good day for the plants but unfortunately it is not too pleasant for us," said Clayton Carter (right) the farm's owner. After several hours of work in the rain they were all ready for a lunch break and to put on dry clothes. Also pictured from left: Marissa Diebolt, Hanne Tierney and Caitlin Curcuruto. Buy Photo
Edith Tierney (left) and her mother Hanne clean out one of the barns on a mid-June morning at Cornerstone Farm in Palmyra. Edith is 10 years old and helps out a great deal. After the end of the school year she spends a lot of time working with her mom. Hanna's husband Dan - who works off the farm - took Edith camping last month but Hannah could not leave for several days. Buy Photo
Hanne Tierney (right) hands piglets to Caitlin Curcuruto on a damp, cool mid-June morning at Cornerstone Farm in Palmyra. The piglets - that were born about 30 minutes earlier - and their mother had to be moved into the barn, so they would have shelter from the elements. Curcuruto is one of the MOFGA apprentices who live on the farm. She said that she is happy to be able to learn about small scale farming, but she finds the long workdays exhausting. Buy Photo
Carole Mapes (left) and Hanne Tierney set up a fence in one of the fields in mid-June at Cornerstone Farm in Palmyra. The pastures were separated for organic and non-organic pigs, cows and the horses. Buy Photo
Everyone at the Cornerstone farm in Palmyra had their hands full with the morning tasks of feeding the pigs, piglets and chickens; mucking out stalls; and preparing a clean “nest” for a litter of piglets that were born about fifteen minutes before. As the first rush of activity quieted down around 7:30 a.m., farm apprentices Marissa Diebolt and Caitlin Curcuruto, farm owner Hanne Tierney and her daughter, 10-year-old Edith Tierney, headed into the house to have a quick breakfast.
Hanne Tierney runs a farm where they raise pigs and chickens, a dairy cow to provide milk for the family, and a few horses for the fun of it. They sell pork products at farmers’ markets, and a few years ago, Hanne began working with Clayton Carter, an organic farmer who grows vegetables at Fail Better Farm in Etna.
“We work together in every part of the process, whether at Cornerstone or Fail Better. That way we know each others’ products and are able to talk about them to our customers at the farmers’ markets,” Tierney said.
The cooperation between the two farms happens every day. They share equipment, manpower and ideas, and when going to farmers markets, they sell each other’s products. Both farms are members of the Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association, which has a live-in apprenticeship program. This season Cornerstone Farm is hosting Diebolt, from Ventura, Calif., and Curcuruto, from Lewisburg, Pa., while Carole Mapes of Earlham, Iowa, is the apprentice at Fail Better Farm.
They said they are all interested in learning about small-scale organic farming, but hands-on experience is hard to come by in their home communities.
“It’s all about large farms and the small ones are not organized like here in Maine,” said Diebolt.
“We do try to make sure that we spend some time with our families and especially with the kids,” Hanne said.
While Tierney’s children, Sam and Edith do help, she tries to spend time with them and her husband, Dan, who works off the farm. Clayton also sets aside time to spend with his five-year-old son, Graham.
The day’s work is often 12-14 hours long, especially in the early summer as the vegetables for market have to be planted and harvested according to a strict schedule. However busy the days are, everyone agrees that harvest days are the most fun. That is when they get the fresh vegetables ready for the next day’s market.
The day started shortly before the sun rose, and when the final chores were finished, it was past 7 p.m.
“No matter how busy we are, we try to eat well. We have the best food right here on the farm; we might as well make a good meal out of it,” Hanne said as she and Clayton prepared a traditional Wednesday dinner for everyone.