Friday evening was the first market of the season for the Kingfield Farmers’ Market, held at Rolling Fatties in Kingfield, Maine. Runamuk was there with our organic (but not certified) eggs, beeswax soaps and salves, and some fresh vegetables.
Earlier this year I’d made up my mind to give up markets and shift instead toward wholesaling Runamuk’s products because of the time constraints I’m facing as a single woman/farmer. When Polly MacMichael, co-owner of Rolling Fatties with her husband, Rob, invited me to join the Kingfield Farmers’ Market, I initially rejected the idea. However, someone in the online community reminded me that this would be a good way to meet this new community I am serving. Runamuk is well-known in the Madison area, but 15 and 25 miles north-west, in the Bigelow Mountain Region we are newcomers. I could not ignore this logic, and sweetening the deal is the fact that Rolling Fatties offers Maine-sourced craft beers on tap, which I am always a sucker for.
Rolling Fatties Restaurant and Bar is located in a classic old farmhouse in downtown Kingfield, right on Route 16. Fatties are FAT burritos, by the way, and all made with Maine foods. It’s a fun, energetic atmosphere. The market is held in the adjacent barn, with live music─and did I mention the Maine craft beers?
I’m glad I went, because it felt really good to connect with the community and to meet some of the other farmers eeking out a living in this area. There were a number of people who told me they’d seen Runamuk’s signs or that they’d been watching my progress at Runamuk every time they drive by. One woman was thrilled to find that I had pea shoots available.
The other vendors that make up the Kingfield Farmers’ Market were all friendly and welcoming to me, as a newcomer. There were 6 of us in total. I’m afraid I didn’t catch everyone’s name or farm-name, but Crooked Face Creamery was there, Cold Spring Ranch with beef and pork, Alice’s Homegrown, a woman selling beautiful loaves of sourdough bread, and John of West Branch Bakery with some bagels that were out of this world.
Meeting Alice of Alice’s Homegrown was particularly inspiring. She’s a spritely 18 year-old farming in Carrabassett Valley on her parent’s land, alongside her boyfriend (who’s name I apologetically have forgotten). She told me, “I’m only 18 and I’ve already figured out what I want to do with my life!” She’d brought vegetables and some glorious tomato plants to the market, along with these amazing dessert cups she’d made using these 4 ounce, wide mouth mason jars. This clever girl packed graham cracker crust into the bottom, then layered rhubarb compote, vanilla pudding, and homemade whipped cream on top of it and sealed it with a lid. She gave me one as a gift at the end of the evening and I savored every bite of that scrumptious dessert.
Runamuk received requests for wholesale eggs from Rolling Fatties and the Hostel in Carrabassett Valley. Ralph Tranten, who owns Tranten’s Grocery in Farmington (and who’s brother owns Tranten’s Grocery in Kingfield) sampled my D’avignon radishes, making it a point to tell me that they’re always looking for local produce. These are invaluable connections for Runamuk’s future and really, really encouraging to me as a farmer.
I was between the ages of 11 and 16 when my family lived in Salem, Maine─another 11 miles west of Kingfield. I attended the Kingfield Elementary School, and then Mt. Abram Regional High School until my junior year. It was during that period of my life that I fell in love with the Bigelow Mountain Range. I knew even then that I never wanted to live anywhere else.
Coming into Kingfield from New Portland is a high hill overlooking the village. Sometime in the last 10 or 15 years the landowner there has cleared the trees, opening up a breathtaking view of Mount Abram with the Bigelows spread out on the horizon behind it. On Friday, as I came with my trusty Subaru Forester loaded once more with table, display pieces, coolers of eggs and produce, boxes of carefully crafted beeswax soaps and herbal salves, it felt such like a home-coming for me that my heart swelled and tears pricked my eyes. To be home in the mountains once more, serving my community by producing high-quality food, working to protect wildlife here where the beauty of nature abounds─is everything I’ve ever wanted and I am so very grateful for every day.
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