GORHAM, Maine — From the outside, the Terry family’s modest house blends in with the quiet Gorham neighborhood. But step into the kitchen, and the bouquet of grain, cinnamon and nuts wafting from the oven is the first clue this is no ordinary address.
The kitchen, for this family of five, doubles as headquarters for MoMunch Granola, a thriving home-based business. On the island are trays of oats, buckets of seeds, labels, bags and scattered iPhones.
“It’s the homework counter, the dinner counter, the crying counter and the granola counter,” said Maureen Terry, assembling batches of cinnamon pecan and peanut butter granola on a recent morning as her three daughters pitched in. “It’s seen it all, and it has the marks to prove it.”
Maureen Terry, a part-time chef at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish, wields her culinary skills to make mounds of wholesome granola. It’s a hit at farmers markets, hotels and stores such as The Good Food Store in Bethel. But this is more than an artisan redux of the crunchy 1960s staple.
The former restaurant chef created the line, part of her Three Daughters Cookie Co., to spend time with her girls and more importantly, build an education fund for their future.
“I want to be involved in their lives. Working from home makes it a whole heck of a lot easier,” said Maureen Terry, 48. “I work in the middle of the night.”
Most evenings, when her children are in bed, the night owl bakes batches of pumpkin walnut, apple walnut and an oat-free version for Paleo diets. Some summer mornings she includes her daughters, combining business with pleasure. Close to 5 years old, the baking company teaches her girls, ages 12, 15 and 18, necessary skills for business and life.
“I work at a lobster company, and I have to talk to a lot of people,” said Grace Terry, 15. “A lot of my co-workers don’t know how. I’ve learned that from talking to people at farmers markets.”
By focusing on the popular, profitable, protein-packed mix, instead of cookies, the matriarch has increased the growth of her daughters’ college fund.
“My husband’s paycheck pretty much pays the bills,” said Maureen Terry, adding that granola fills the gaps.
As her eldest daughter, Maeve Terry, heads to American University in Washington, D.C., this month, granola is getting her there.
“They said prepare to spend $60,000 a year,” said Maureen Terry, whose side hustle “will probably buy books and food for the year and pay for travel.”
Living in granola central has its pluses. Snacking is easy and company friendly.
“We get to eat it whenever we want, but we get sick of it,” said Grace Terry. “Whenever my friends come over, they want it.”
Their father, Parnell Terry, has to be warned off endless nibbling. Then there’s the ever-present aroma.
Typically when Maureen Terry’s girls go to bed, she starts to bake. The heavy scent of cinnamon wafts up to their rooms.
To an outsider the smell is comforting, but night after night “it’s nauseating,” said Maeve Terry. “The thick air comes up to my room. The smell of burning sugar is gross.”
Maureen Terry’s youngest, Siobhan Terry, is excited by the enterprise.
Pausing from scooping golden chunks fresh from the oven into bags, “Maybe I’ll take on the family business,” she said.
Grace Terry might want to be a chef. And Maeve Terry, a journalist.
Coinciding with her first child’s exit from the nest, Maureen Terry is scaling back on MoMunch Granola as she runs for state representative for District 26. It’s her first run.
“It’s important for me to see the state be solid, and if the state is solid, business can be solid,” she said.