Andrew Marble and Sarah Winslow Farm Green
Despite the dirt under their nails and sweat on their brows, Andrew Marble and Sarah Winslow are radiant about “farming in our community, farming for our community.”
“That’s what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We love to get healthy, wholesome food out into the community,” says Marble.
Both biology majors who graduated from UMF with concentrations in nutrition, the two operate the Marble Family Farm with a fervor for entrepreneurial sustainability and healthy eating. True to their vision of community-supported and sustainable agriculture, their organically grown, cold-tolerant and locally consumed greens (such as spinach, arugula, red Russian kale, sorrel, and Osaka purple mustard) minimize dependence on foreign oil. (Crop tolerance to cold negates the need to heat greenhouses with fossil fuels; going pesticide-free cuts out petrochemicals; and less time in transit to market and consumer reduces the carbon footprint.) They’re even mindful of reducing landfill waste, packaging greens in 100-percent corn-based containers that biodegrade in about 45 days.
“It’s a way of life,” says Marble of community-supported agriculture in the Farmington area. “You’re not going to make a lot of money, and you’re going to work a lot. We’re not farming because we have to. We’re farming because we love to.”
“Out straight 50 hours a week from February to October,” says Winslow, with a somewhat satisfied weariness in her voice.
Despite the long hours and hard work, business is good. Demand for their signature product soared in 2006, when consumers were spooked (and seriously sickened in more than 100 cases) by the widespread distribution of E. coli-contaminated spinach across much of the nation. And recent discoveries of lead- and chemically contaminated products from abroad have only heightened interest in buying food from a local farmer.
Although they recently pursued separate South American vacations (Marble in Argentina to climb Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas at 22,841 feet, and Winslow in Peru to tour Machu picchu with her mother), the couple contentedly spends most days working side-by-side with all aspects of the business: weeding, harvesting, making deliveries throughout central Maine and expanding the customer base, to name a few.
And how does that work?
“It’s easy when you work with your partner,” she says. Marble agrees: “Sarah’s my best friend.”