…and now for something completely different…
Canoe bow waves are quickly lost
on the shoreside
But go on out of sight
on the lake side.
The constant swish-swish of skis
On a day long ski.
The constant swish-swish of wiper blades
On a day long drive.
My dog, trotting barefoot
Steps on a garden slug
Nothing of it.
Word spreads quickly
as I approach the pond.
All becomes quiet.
Hidden in the vines
a large warted cucumber
jumps out of reach.
of marshmallow snow
on a branch,
await the trigger of my hat
to melt their way down my back.
Deep in the tomato jungle
Fruits of yellow, purple and red
Tell of their readiness
To go to market.
Snowflakes hurry through my flashlight beam,
As my boots knead new snow with spring mud,
On my nightly Hajj to keep the boil alive,
For as long as possible until the dawn,
To match the power of the flowing sap,
With my meager evaporator and will.
The prize at the finish line are jars of syrup
Workers at Snakeroot Organic Farm
From time to time we are fortunate enough to have folks help us with work on the farm. Sometimes we hire helpers, some times we have season-long interns, and occasionally we have people volunteer to help for a while. Whenever we can, we take pictures to share here.
2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011
Click on pictures to enlarge.
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We did not get photos of every one of our 2011 workers, usually because some were only with us for a few days. This includes Thomas Greiner, Evangeline Greiner, Gavitt Poulin, Cinjin Goewe, Holly Credit, Joshua Wardwell, Courtney Brochu, and Don Shepard.
Our workers for the 2011 season are pictured here, in addition to returning workers Elmer Faloon, Casey Egerton, Lori Labbe, Debbi Ferguson, Sonya Credit, Mike Leonard, Jason Gavitt, Jessye Berube, and Dan Bourgois. (A few of our returning workers appear here in 2011 since it's the first time we caught them on camera!)
Casey Egerton (left) returned for his third year at the farm. Besides working on the farm for almost the entire season, Casey often went with Elmer to the Waterville Farmers' Market for us. He helped with mulching, harvesting grapes and gathering firewood among other activities.
Sheila Curtis (right) stayed in the cabin in 2010 and 2011 and worked off the farm at an outside job. On many days she helped out on the farm for a few hours and occasionally at the Pittsfield Farmers' Market.
Casey's friend A. J. Denis (right) began working for us this year, arriving mid-season and working through mid-November. AJ helped gather firewood, harvested and cleaned garlic and onions, picked tomatoes, washed veggies, etc. He has since enlisted in the Army, so we don't expect him back next year.|
Nick Cook (left) is another of Casey's friends who began working in the spring, leaving in August to attend school in Hawaii. Nick spent a lot of his time planting and mulching onions.
Jesse Berube (right) worked picking peas and beans and prepping veggies in the washing area. This was Jessye's second year working here, but we didn't get any pics of her last year.|
Cheryl Chamberlain (left), a shopper at the Pittsfield Farmers' Market, asked in the spring about working at the farm for three days a week. She proved to be a conscientious worker both in the washing area and in the field.
Revelin Goewe (right) and his brother Nevin Goewe (left) worked from early summer to October mulching many of our crops, cleaning and harvesting onions and garlic, trellising cherry tomatoes, and doing most of the other jobs at the farm. Nevin was part of the MCI Community Service Day in the spring, and his energy on that day led us to invite him to work here for the summer. We welcomed his brother to work soon afterwards. A third borther Cinjin Goewe worked for a couple of weeks during mid-summer mulching activities.|
Maine Central Institute's Community Service Day students arrived to work one morning in June. They stacked firewood, hauled bags of leaves into the tomato patch to be used as mulch, and cleaned up one of our greenhouses in preparation for planting. As always, we are grateful when this “flash crew” arrives at our farm, and appreciate the effort MCI puts into the community.
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Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield has a Community Service Day for the sturdents in the spring and fall. Groups of students, along with their home room teachers, go out into the community by appointment to help out whereever needed.
A light rain was just subsiding as sixteen students showed up at the farm to be put to work for a couple of hours one morning in early June. This was just at the right time for us to get the just-cut hay raked and brought into the onion beds to mulch the aisles and to haul bags of leaves into the tomato patch where they will be opened and spread out to mulch tomatoes the following week.
In the top photo students in the center are hauling armloads of hay into the onion patch and depositing them in the aisles. On the right another group is raking the last of the cut hay. On the left a few are beginning to haul bags of leaves into the tomato aisles.
On October 27 another Community Service Day brought us another 18 students, including many who had come in June. This time we split them into three smaller groups, each given a set of tasks including removing mulch and trellising twine from the greenhouses, loading a woods trailer and dragging slash into the woods, stacking firewood, covering spinach with row covers, hauling leaf bags into the garlic patch and planting garlic.
Not bad for a half a morning's work! We are indebted to these students and to MCI's Community Service Day, and thank everyone very much. We hope at least some of the students gained from the experience of working on an organic vegetable farm and will perhaps take an interest in farming in the future.
Jason Gavitt, Sonya Credit, Mike Leonard and Jessye Berube all became invaluable workers here at the farm and at some of the farmers' markets.
Jason was the first to arrive in March to help with the end of sugaring. As things got busier, he recommended his friend Mike. By mid-summer Jason's partner Sonya and Mike's partner Jessye were all on board. Our chief bean and pea pickers, they also dug potatoes, fixed greenhouses, helped build our new barn, worked in the woods, attended farmers' markets, and much more.
Dan Bourgeois, an ex software engineer, wants to develop his Troy homestead into something he and his family can rely on. Thus he came to work for us as much to learn as to earn. Dan worked here weekends during May, four days a week during the summer, and again of weekends in September, October and November. He dug potatoes, trimmed and stacked firewood, put on row covers, and even went to a few farmers' markets.
Matt Waddicor and Katrina Karlson arrived from Unity College in early May to spend the summer as interns. With them came their friend Miranda McFadzen. They lived in the trailer and did nearly the whole gamut of jobs from starting seedling trays and weeding carrots to harvesting kale and cutting firewood. Miranda left as the school year began, but Matt and Katrina stayed on for the winter.
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Elmer Faloon signed up with us at the Pittsfield Job Fair in May at the urging of his wife Shannon. He came to work in mid June and proved himself a
reliable and consistent worker mulching onions and tomatoes. Often Shannon would arrive to work with him. Hand weeding and hoeing took up a good part of
Elmer's summer. He helped harvest the winter squash and harvested almost all of our onions and learned to sort and grade them. He and Shannon cleaned
almost all of the garlic. In the photo he is nailing shingles to the side of the barn we built this fall and winter.
From mid August until early November, Holly Zadra spent many mornings digging potatoes
and carrots, picking spinach, kale, chard and leeks, and washing veggies for market. Here
she is mulching garlic with leaves which she has carried from the edge of the field using
Having discovered us on the web, Mike Stenta stayed and worked at the farm three days a week from mid May
to late July, commuting from Palermo and Portland. Here Mike is helping to lay floating
row covers. He also worked on plasticing the new Shelf Greenhouse, mulching tomatoes,
weeding, harvesting and prepping veggies. One of Mike's lasting legacies is that he helped install a server
on the farm's computer so these web pages could be worked on more efficiently. He also
has his own website at mstenta.net.
Jarett came to work for us again this year, this time staying in the trailer. He was with
us from May until the end of August, and helped lay row covers, weed, dig potatoes, mulch
tomatoes, and harvest and prep veggies.
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Will Robillard is a Unity College student who emailed us in the fall after seeing our
"help wanted" notice posted at the college. He came in on Thursdays and
Fridays and on some weekends, arranging his work schedule around his classes. He
cleaned the garlic rounds, split bulbs into cloves, and planted most of our entire
garlic patch. After each bed was planted, he applied shredded leaves to the bed, then
whole leaves in the aisles.
On one of his visits to the farm Tracy Page, Coco's father, was looking for a farm job, so
we had him put a new floor in our farm trailer. While we were at market he bought the
wood and that afternoon we completed the job.
Emily and Jill Wrin (above photo) were back again gathering hay, mulching
and picking beans and peas.
Meli DeBethune (left photo) worked a few days a week during the summer. She weeded and mulched and
picked peas and beans.
All three of them are coming up from the lower field with the last loads of hay for the
Coco's friend Kitu (right photo) from Colby College came to visit and work for a week,
and brought her friend Prisna (left photo). They did a wonderful job of pulling down
all of the old cherry tomato vines from Greenhouse 4, hauling them to the compost pile
and then tying up the trellis strings. When they were done, the greenhouse was ready
for our winter planting of spinach and baby lettuce.
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Sisters Cecilia (L) and Leticia (R) Smith were walking past the Pittsfield Farmers' Market one late September day
and Cecilia asked if we needed anyone to work on the farm. They came to work a few days later and proved to
be some of the best weeders we've ever had, being both fast and thorough. On this day they were weeding the
same carrot bed, Luticia in the morning and Cecilia in the afternoon, as they take shifts caring for
Cecilia's son Adrian.
On day in early summer, Jeremiah Hackett stopped by the Pittsfield Farmers' Market to shop and mentioned
that his wife was interested in working and learning at an organic farm, and did we have any openings?
Melissa Hackett has since become a regular worker, especially providing a presence on most Saturday mornings when we are
all at market. Here she is transplanting winter squash into just made beds in June.
A few weeks later Coco's mother Donna Page visited to help out on the farm for a few days. Here she is helping
Coco weed those same winter squash.
Travis Gervais worked here regularly for several weeks in the late summer. Lois's granddaughter
Megan Labbe sometimes came with him. Here they are weeding chickweed out of the fall spinach crop, a
John McDevitt came to work in the early fall. Here he is recycling potting soil for re-use next year.
He also cleaned a whole lot of garlic and onions and stacked firewood for the greenhouse. John walked and
hitch hiked from Newport every day he came to work. He found out about us through a friend, Reeve Moreau (not
pictured) who also worked here this year. Reeve pulled, bound and hung much of our garlic crop.
Josey Jones emailed us in December, 2006, after finding our
listing at OrganicVolunteers.org
asking about the possiblity of apprenticing here. In January, he and Jen paid us an
afternoon visit where we interviewed each other. Josey had apprenticed at a farm in Leeds in
2006, and was eager to learn more. Beside digging lupines for transplanting, Josey started most of our 2000
Jen Beckett arrived with Josey at the end of February, 2007. When
she arrived here she continued to hold down two jobs in Bangor, making the commute five days
a week. Jen had absolutely no farming experience when she arrived, but was willing and eager
to learn. One of her biggest projects was to transplant over 500 lupines into pots for sale at market.
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Lois's daughter Debbie and her son Lucas gathering and topping pulled carrots to go into fall storage. They arrive at various times throughout the summer
to help out — always welcome!
Jack Cozart, always barefoot, picking up the last of the September onions. Mitch Miller covering a May broccoli planting with floating row covers. Jack
and Mitch joined us in January as apprentices; Jack is staying on at the farm. More about Jack here.
Amy and Rachel, migrant farm workers, came by to work for about two weeks in August. Amy spent a half day helping to chip brush. Altho everyone took
turns at it, she seemed to really like feeding the chipper. Coco Page joined us in the fall, just in time to get one last picking from the green beans
before frost totally killed the plants. More about Coco here.
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16-April-2005, Colby Cares sent seven volunteers to help out at the
farm for 4 hours. We cleared brush, mulched grapes and rhubarb, stacked fire wood, tore down
an old fence, and had a great lunch while listening to the peepers in the bog. It's amazing
how much work you can get done with seven young and enthusiastic people!
The Wrin Sisters. Out of the blue Emma Wrin walked up to me at the
Pittsfield Farmers' Market in June and asked if we could use any help at the farm. Then she
asked if her sister Jill, who accompanied her, could come, too. Soon sister Kate was also part
of the crew. Here we see Jill and Kate loading and unloading the hay they raked by hand to be
used as mulch for the tomatoes and celery. Emma was out sick the week these photos were
Amy Avelar & Webi Bingham. Amy was refereed to us by someone who
worked here in 2003, and asked if her friend Webi could come also. They started in mid June
and we immediately put them on one of the biggest jobs we have on the farm, that of mulching
the tomatoes. We would dump piles of hay or leaves at each end of the tomato patch and Amy
would load it into a wheelbarrow and bring it to where Webi was spreading it around the
tomatoes. This took a good three weeks to do all of our 3000 tomato plants. After the tomato
mulching project, they also helped with weeding and transplanting. Amy left in August to rake
blueberries and Webi stayed on until November pulling drip tape out of the fields and helping
Jack Cozart, Dorothy Pappadakis & Mitch Miller. I met Mitch
Miller in May when he asked me to be his Mentor in his Journeyperson role at the Garcelon
House in Troy. He helped at the Orono Farmers' Market stand several Saturdays in the fall. He
also recruited Dorothy Pappadakis to help with his farm work in Troy. One day in November as
they came to the farm to help plant and mulch garlic, they brought Jack Cozart along to help.
After working together for a morning, I hired Jack to work on the farm for the rest of the
year. In December, all three decided to ask to return in 2006 as apprentices. Dorothy stayed until May; Mitch left in August. Photo: (L to R) Mitch,
In the photos the four of us are erecting a greenhouse structure in early December the week before
the ground froze and the snows came.
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Deena Foster worked for us for most of the summer of '04. She did everything from seeding flats in
the greenhouse to weeding the cucumber patch. She was a bit camera shy, so we had to sneak up
on her to snap these photos. Below, Deena is doing a thorough job of weeding the cucumber patch.