2013-07-26 / Front Page

Fresh catch

Community Supported . . . fish
By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


Justine Simon, a South Portland resident and owner of Salt & Sea, loads 24 pounds of haddock into the coolers at Rosemont Market in downtown Portland Monday, July 22. The Community Supported Fishery program drops off a variety of fresh seafood to more than 100 shareholders at various locations around Maine from Kittery to Brunswick. (Jack Flagler photo) Justine Simon, a South Portland resident and owner of Salt & Sea, loads 24 pounds of haddock into the coolers at Rosemont Market in downtown Portland Monday, July 22. The Community Supported Fishery program drops off a variety of fresh seafood to more than 100 shareholders at various locations around Maine from Kittery to Brunswick. (Jack Flagler photo) SOUTH PORTLAND – Community Supported Agriculture is not a new concept to Mainers. In the last few years, CSAs have begun to find more traction as consumers become increasingly conscientious about their produce and more interested in supporting local farmers. According to Melissa Pillsbury, organic marketing coordinator with the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, farms that participate in CSA programs have grown from 60 in 2006 to nearly 200, including three farms in Cape Elizabeth. Today, 180 Maine farms offer CSA programs, including three farms in Cape Elizabeth.


Justine Simon of Salt & Sea drops off seafood in the South Portland and Cape Elizabeth area each Tuesday. She stops at Scratch Baking Co. in Willard Square, Coastal Wellness Family Chiropractic on Shore Road and, as of early July, Jordan’s Farm on Wells Road. (Jack Flagler photo) Justine Simon of Salt & Sea drops off seafood in the South Portland and Cape Elizabeth area each Tuesday. She stops at Scratch Baking Co. in Willard Square, Coastal Wellness Family Chiropractic on Shore Road and, as of early July, Jordan’s Farm on Wells Road. (Jack Flagler photo) The basic concept of a CSA is relatively simple, although it varies from farm to farm. Rather than paying for tomatoes, strawberries or green beans at a farm stand or farmers market, individuals purchase “shares” that guarantee a set amount of produce for a week, month or season.

The system provides a stable relationship for parties on either side of the transaction. The consumer knows he or she will have a steady diet of produce ready from the farm and the farmer has a commitment from the customer to purchase food for a relatively long time period.

Justine Simon, a South Portland resident, saw the model work when she ran a CSA while working in food policy in New York. Last year, after moving back to Maine, Simon started “Salt & Sea,” a communitysupported fishery that applies the CSA model to locally caught seafood.

“I really saw a need for it. You go into local grocery stores and see a lot of imported fish. I thought it would be great if we could get more people eating local fish,” Simon said.

Simon’s husband, Marty Odlin, is a member of a South Portland family with a long history in the fishing industry. She said the quality of seafood she ate with his family was drastically different from the frozen, foreign fish in grocery stores, and the CSF offers not just an opportunity to support the local economy, but a better product.

“Really fresh fish is a very different experience,” Simon said.

Salt & Sea provides single shares, offering one pound of fish each week, enough for one family meal, at a cost of $96 for two months. Simon said the selection varies seasonally. In July, customers receive shipments heavy on hake and pollock. Earlier this summer, Salt & Sea offered a large amount of mackerel and squid.

The CSF is available yearround and customers can pick up their order at various locations from Kittery to Brunswick, depending on what is most convenient. Drop off locations for the 110 shareholders include Scratch Bakery in South Portland and Jordan’s Farm in Cape Elizabeth on Tuesdays, as well as Ryan’s Corner House in Kennebunk on Wednesdays.

Penny Jordan, owner of Jordan’s Farm, said the partnership between the farm and CSF made sense because there is already an established network of customers who shop at the farm stand who value local food. Drop offs started at Jordan’s Farm in early July. Jordan said she hopes the CSF picks up momentum in Cape Elizabeth and throughout the state.

“It’s a new concept for people. I hope it does catch on. I think it would be great. I think (Salt & Sea is) very conscientious. They seem to have good quality products. I really think it could work,” Jordan said.

This summer, Salt & Sea also began a pilot home delivery program on Falmouth Foreside in a partnership with Cultivating Community, a Portland-basedorganization that grows produce in urban gardens and trains refugee farmers

“We joined with Salt & Sea in an attempt to really join together the farming and the fishing communities to provide healthy food access for all of us, all the people living in our community,” said Stephanie Aquilina, project manager at Cultivating Community.

Cultivating Community operates seven farm stands in the Portland area, including one open Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Redbank neighborhood of South Portland.

Aquilina said she hopes the pilot program can expand in the future to offer seafood through the Salt & Sea CSF at the farm stands as the program continues to take hold.

Simon said the communitysupported model of providing food does not have to be unique to produce or seafood. The model is flexible, she said, because it succeeds not on the basis of the product itself. Rather, it depends on food producers’ dedication to provide a high quality product and customers’ desire to support farmers and fishermen in their community.

“It appeals to people because they want to be eatinglocallyandsupporting their local harvesters and farmers.”

For more information, including a full list of dropoff times and locations, visit saltandsea.me.

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