Pine Island has a well-deserved reputation for serving good food. Over the past 20 years or so, we have seen huge improvements in the quality of ingredients available to us, frequency of delivery, and our storage capacity. These factors, combined with the hard work, skill, and ingenuity of our cooks, have produced continual improvement in the quality and variety of meals at Pine Island and ensure a memorable culinary experience every summer at PIC.
Beginning three summers ago, we upped our game even more when we began a supply relationship with organic farmer Trent Emery of nearby Wayne, Maine. Emily Swan met with Trent in the winter of 2013 to talk about the kinds of produce Pine Island usually buys and to explore ways to line up the PIC season with Trent’s production schedule. Trent has tailored his offerings to suit our tastes, and every year he brings a greater variety of products to market earlier and earlier, no mean feat in Maine, where even in mid-June the memory of winter is still very fresh in our minds.
Now we get all our greens – lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale and chard – from Emery Farm, and salads are a daily fixture at the Pine Island table. Trent even manages to conjure tomatoes by mid-June and we spend the summer blissfully free of the flavorless, pale excuses for tomatoes we used to buy from Sysco. Sugar snap peas are a common snack early in the summer, and fabulous Maine strawberries found their way to our table more than once last summer. By early July we are getting cucumbers, cabbage, onions, potatoes, squash, broccoli, beets and their greens, green beans, carrots, scallions, and much more. We even managed to squeeze in fresh, local corn on the cob at a meal or two before the camp season ended.
In addition to the beautiful local produce we buy from Emery Farm, we have also begun to see a little more local food available through Sysco, our regular supplier. Most notable is Maine Family Farms beef, which is locally produced and a noticeable improvement over what we used to get from Sysco.
Emery Farm delivers to Pine Island twice a week, combining our deliveries with those made to a larger camp in the Belgrade area. Trent, his wife Alicia, and his farm hands were so busy keeping the produce coming last summer that most deliveries were made by his grandparents, who had been pressed into service on the busy farm! It takes a village . . . .! We are already looking forward to next summer’s delicious, nutritious harvest and thank Trent and his farm family for bending over backwards to keep the good stuff coming.