September 10, 2018
A trip to Nezinscot Farm near Turner, Maine will not only find you some amazingly delicious and healthy food, but it will also lead you to farmher Gloria Varney, the woman behind the goodness. Many years ago Gloria felt there was a better way to teach about being healthy than being in an office. So, she changed her life and came home to the farm that had been a part of her husband’s family. She assessed the farm and started by acquiring fiber animals and opening a small fiber shop. The customers coming into their home for the fiber would see other things she created, such as homemade bread, canned goods and cheeses and they wanted to be a part of that too. So she turned a 30 x 60 ft post and beam barn into a restaurant, workspace and retail store boasting two stories of retail and even a third story of accommodations for overnight guests. The farm boasts a full creamery to create cheeses made from milk coming from their cows and goats, they raise nine different kinds of meat animals and Gloria bakes a full line of bread.
As the farm has grown and diversified over time, today, coming to the Nezinscot Farm means stepping into a classroom. When I arrived at class on a crisp early fall morning, I was warmly greeted first by two of the young women interns who were working on the farm, then by Greg and Gloria. With so much diversity, there is not an extra minute to spare and we were off so Gloria could go about her daily activities. For her, the day had started much earlier, when she was up before the sun baking bread. We started out by moving fences for some of the sheep on the farm, then made a quick stop to check on the bees that she keeps for honey. From there it was up into the second level of the hoop barn to groom a few of the angora rabbits that she uses for fiber. Before heading back in, we stopped to cut some lavender, lemon balm, and sage that would then be dried and woven together to create “smudges” used to cleanse the air.
Finally, we finished up in the creamery and kitchen, checking on the cheese and enjoying some farm fresh pizza that Gloria had somehow found the time to prepare.
As I watched Gloria work and listen to her talk, her passion shined through clear and bright. She talked at length about changing the lens of agriculture and how we can ensure there is a next generation involved in farming, a noble and important goal for any farm and any FarmHer. A trip to the Nezinscot Farm is a true agriculture experience - from the sprawling pastures and plethora of diverse livestock to the beautiful fiber art and delicious farm-fresh food, Gloria has created a learning environment second to none.
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