Steven Golieb has only lived in Millinocket for a couple of years, but it’s obvious he’s not wasting any time settling in to his new community.
Last summer, the 28-year-old entrepreneur and his girlfriend, Ashley Wells, opened Turn The Page Bookstore and Wine Bar in the former Pelletier Logging Family Restaurant in the heart of town. In November, he was elected to the Millinocket Town Council. And all along, he and Wells have been working on growing their natural food company, Edible Wilds, which features tasty treats made from Maine-grown ingredients.
It’s a company that Golieb started about five years ago, in Utah, when he was eating a lot of foods he foraged from the land around him. And the concept has translated very well to Maine, he said.
“I wanted to share my own experiences with the kinds of things that I was eating, and share those flavors with people,” he said. “I started creating ideas of things that would last on the shelf.”
Right now, Edible Wilds sells products including Wild Maine Spruce Chocolate Spruce Tea, Wild Maine Spruce Syrup, Wild Maine Maple Syrup Maple Salsa, Native New England Corn Waffle & Pancake Mix, Wild Maine Blueberry Pie Jam and Native New England Bean Gluten-Free Brownie Mix. Future products he is working on in the commercial kitchen of the former restaurant include sunflower jelly, made from sunflower pollen, and something that will incorporate flour made from the seeds of curly dock, a member of the wild buckwheat family. To say that Golieb is happy about the newest Wild Edibles offerings is an understatement.
“We have an incredible sunflower jelly that’s beyond comprehension,” he said. “It’s honestly one of the wildest flavors I’ve ever had. It tastes like a concoction of tropical fruits.”
They are now sourcing ingredients from local farmers and producers and by foraging the Maine woods and fields.
As far as the sunflowers are concerned, though, he is ambitious. With an eye towards making enough of the jelly to offer it all year long, Golieb is hoping to lease land near the Millinocket Municipal Airport so he can grow an abundance of the cheerful flowers.
The company also has been hiring local folks to help make products and to do some foraging, and Golieb and Wells have worked with established Maine companies such as Todd’s Salsa of Bangor and All About The Honey of Medway to make the Wild Edibles maple salsa and blueberry pie jam.
“Our long term goal is really to create a larger market for our products, and we want to shift towards growing healthier and native plants,” Golieb said.
So far, so good, he said. Edible Wilds products are starting to be used in restaurants including Portland’s Bayside American Cafe, and are offered for sale at many stores in Maine including Tiller & Rye in Brewer, the Natural Living Center in Bangor, Ellis Family Market in East Millinocket and Patten and Katahdin General Store in Millinocket. They’re also found at locations in New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York.
In the future, he and Wells would like to make different products for different regions around the United States and beyond that will reflect the natural environment of each place.
“There’s an opportunity to create really unique products,” he said.
And for Golieb, the innovation doesn’t stop with the products. He and Wells are passionate about supporting organizations that are working to solve big problems that include deforestation, climate change, human trafficking, economic disparity and more. That’s why, if you purchase a bag of the bean brownie mix, made with Jacob’s cattle beans, you are also supporting various efforts to end human trafficking and modern day slavery. Want some waffle mix? A portion of the sales price will support education for children.
“Being able to create those relationships with people and organizations working on transforming our world for the better, it gives us great purpose,” Golieb said. “We can feel good about what we’re doing and so can the people who buy our products.”
Having that freedom is exciting, he said. And so is growing a business in Millinocket, a place in transition that he and Wells see as full of potential.
“The opportunities were screaming at me, and I decided to do something about it,” Golieb said. “I am very happy about the decision. Really good things are coming.”
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