Christa Bahner’s Story
My husband and I own and operate Bahner Farm, in Belmont, ME. The farm is 37 acres, and we are currently producing vegetables on 4 acres. We have been certified organic at our current location since 2010. Before that, I ran and worked on other certified organic farms in the area, and he was a crew manager at one of the largest certified organic vegetable producers in our area. I know we could still sell our vegetables for a good price even if e weren\’t certified, but I feel strongly that the certification helps keep us honest and helps us run a better operation overall. I also feel that is is incredibly important to have certification standards that are easy for our customers to identify. They want to know that the food they are purchasing for their families is healthy for them and the community, and organic certification is a simple way for them to do so.
We are currently producing almost all vegetables, but are trying to branch out into small fruit production. We are located on a busy road, and our goal is to eventually be making most of our sales on the farm or through our CSA. We currently make 90% of our sales through farmers markets up to 1 1/2 hours away. Introducing small fruits would help draw new customers and passers by to our farm stand, which will be open for the first time in June of 2012. We would like to plant 1 acre of small fruits, half strawberries and half raspberries. $2,500.00 would not cover the entire cost of the plants and the preparation and planting labor hours, but will make a huge difference to us. We have been trying to make this step for a few years, and this could make it possible.
Although organic fruits and vegetables are available in many locations along the Maine coast where our farmers markets are located, we feel that it is also important to make them available to our more local community. We have loved getting to know neighbors and new friends in our small town, and are excited for our farm stand to be available to them. However, the farm stand will not be successful unless we can bring in people who would not necessarily buy organic vegetables, and having exciting treats like fresh fruit is one of the best ways we can bring in those new faces. It\’s easy to sell fresh organic produce to foodies and gourmets, but important to get in into the hands of others, too!