Sunday, August 24, 2014

Business spotlight: Hawkes Farm Market - By Michelle Libby

A third generation farmer, Robert “Bob” Hawkes, didn’t expect to be where he is today, getting up at 5 a.m. and working in the field, then heading to Hawkes Farm Stand on Route 302 to sell some of the freshest produce around. 
Every morning Hawkes and his girlfriend Diana Tilley, start harvesting the corn, cucumbers, squash, peppers, cantaloupes, watermelons, eggplants and tomatoes. “It might be six to eight things in a day,” Hawkes said. “It’s as fresh as a typical farmer’s market. This is the way we’ve done it for years.” The stand opens at noon on most days to give Hawkes time to harvest the crops on the 10 acres they farm on Windham Center Road and bring the produce to the market. 

“We have good produce at great prices,” he said. Hawkes has been tending the farm since September 2004, when his father passed away. He finished up that growing season and decided to keep it going instead of staying self-employed doing remodeling. 

“I like it. In the morning we’re out in nature. Then we come over here and have one to two minute conversations with so many people throughout the day. I might not remember their name, but I remember they’re a corn person or a blueberry person,” he said. One man comes in for two ears of corn every day. Others are second and third generations returning to buy their vegetables. 

On the weekend a big percentage of customers are vacationers, but during the week, it’s mostly locals, he said. Monday is their busiest day.
In the past they would pick 10 to 15 bushels of beans a day because people were canning their food. Now there isn’t as much canning going on, Hawkes said. He will take orders for large amounts of produce like tomatoes, if someone wants to can food. 

Hawkes said the first year of farming was the most difficult. He had helped on the farm until he was 16 years old, but had never done the planting, plowing or cultivating. “You make mistakes. I still make mistakes, but not the same ones.” 

Corn is one of the bestselling products for the stand. In early August he starts to pick his corn and the corn type varies depending on when the corn is ready. Each day, Hawkes will put on the board what type of corn it is and all of it is a hybrid type making it sweeter and plumper. “We keep it cold and bring it out as we need it,” he said. On the sign it also asks that customers not shuck the corn at the stand. That says that for no other reason than to keep the corn fresh and sweet. Once it’s opened, the sugar turns to starch, he said. 

The farm stand, now celebrating its 83rd season, is owned by 90-year-old Florence Hawkes, and she still spends time there, but the stand is run by Hawkes’ sister Diane Loring. The history of the farm and stand date back to 1910, when Hawkes’ grandfather had a dairy cow farm on the land in Windham. In 1932, they set up a farm stand in the now vacant rest area down the road from the existing stand. In 1948, it was moved to its present location and added on to.  

“I try to make it easier than my father,” Hawkes said. He still uses the same tractors, one of them born the same year he was, 1960. 
As far as pesticides go, Hawkes does use some, but at night so the bees won’t be effected. “Bees are the best free labor,” he joked. 

The vegetable of the year is purple kohlrabi and they are offering hot peppers for the first time. He grows lettuce, but the recent hail damaged some of the leaves. 

“Food safety and quality are our biggest concern. Fresh and quality,” Hawkes said. “We strive to be the best.” 

The stand, which opens mid-July, is open most days from noon to 6 p.m. seven days a week. They are a cash and check business only. They don’t take debit or credit cards.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Business Spotlight - Fresh Pickins Farm - By Michelle Libby

 Professional skiier Dan Marion always dreamed of doing something on his grandfather’s 225-acre property in Limington. For years, the Windham High graduate mowed the fields and cared for the land. Even while he was skiing and riding the chairlifts all over the world, he thought about what he could do with the farm land. He met a man from York, Maine while skiing at Breckenridge in Colorado, and the two of them struck up a friendship 
Abe Zacharias, who worked on his father’s farm Zach’s Farm, became a mentor to Dan. From use of knowledge to Abe’s greenhouse, Zach’s Farm helped Dan get the farm into the ground. 

Fresh Pickins Farm (FPF) has been farming flowers for five years now. Although the first year was a little rough, according to Dan, when his best first crop was poison ivy. 

“He didn’t have any help after word got out about the poison ivy,” said Vicki Marion, Dan’s mother, who began working the farm in 2012. The first year, they didn’t attend a farmer’s market until August. 

“It would have been too easy for me if that wouldn’t have happened,” Dan said, referring to the poison ivy, which was banished that first season. 

Now FPF produces flowers on five acres of land. One acre is devoted to sunflowers. They also grow 30 different fresh cut flower varieties. They cut 3,000 stems at a time to make into bouquets, said Vicki. 

“We provide top notch flowers at a very reasonable price. From Amaranthus and green mist dill to 14 different colors of zinnias to eculuptus, they have a huge variety of flowers. They also grow basil to sell. 

Dan has researched farming in depth and had a bit of a green thumb to begin with, he said. 

FPR has been experiementing with grow-at-home oyster mushroom kits, that they are hoping to have more of this fall.  
They have eight bee hives for honey and bee’s wax. They also make lip balms, hand salves, sunscreens and bug repellent at Vicki’s home in Windham. 

“All of the products have been approved via the Maine Department of Agriculture. We are current with Mobil Vendor/Home Food Processing License, Nursery Stock License and Liability Insurance requirements,” said Vicki.
Vicki also forrages for Chaga, a mushroom that she makes into a tea or a tincture which both have healing properties. In Russia Chaga is certified as a cancer cure. 

“Fresh Pickins Farm is all about putting the environment at the forefront of what we do,” said Dan. “We farm using sustainable farming practices and being stewards of the land so we can deleiver products that are pure and simple as possible.” 

Each week until mid-October, Fresh Pickins Farm attends six farmers’ markets in South Portland, Falmouth, Scarborough, Cumberland and Brunswick. They also deliver fresh cut bouquets to Portland restaurants and businesses. They even offer delieveries for office employees to take a bouquet home on Friday for only $10, when five people sign up. This is limited to businesses in Portland and Windham. For some people wedding flowers are too expensive, but Fresh Pickins Farm will deliver fresh cut flowers in buckets for wedding parties to create their own unique bouquets and centerpieces for a reasonable price. 
“We’re having a lot of fun,” said Vicki, who still works for LL Bean and her husband is a silent third partner in the business. 

Fresh Pickins Farm can be found at with links to its online store and on Facebook.
“We are proud to be true Mainers and passionate about farming,” Dan concluded.   

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Business spotlight - Raymond RediCare - By Michelle Libby

Raymond has a new walk-in care clinic with a doctor who has worked around the world helping people overcome illnesses and creating programs to help meet their healthcare needs. Dr. Richard H. Wilkins, D.O., MPH, FAOCOPM, is a Raymond resident who noticed the lack of medical care and physicians in the town. 

“I got bored in retirement and I live in Raymond, so I started a healthcare facility. I put in place the structure to carry on in the future,” Wilkins said. “We’re not big business. We’re family run and not affiliated with anyone. We can be focused on our patients and not be tied to a big corporation. We believe in old values in a new setting.”

So instead of looking elsewhere, he built a center in the former Key Bank location at 1278 Roosevelt Trail. Although the building was once a wide open room, it is now a state of the art healthcare facility thanks to Raymond resident and builder Mike Meyer and his construction team. “He constructed a high quality medical office, that you’d think couldn’t be done in 2,000 square feet and within our budget,” said Wilkins. 

The only ways to tell it was a bank is the bulletproof glass in the waiting room and the vault where medicine, computers, records and expensive equipment are locked up every night.

“Records are more secure here than at most offices,” said Wilkins with a chuckle. 

Raymond RediCare will do urgent care, walk-ins and family doctor visits, including sports and DOT physicals. Wilkins works with Garrett Smith, a certified physician’s assistant as well as medical assistants and X-ray technicians. 

Wilkins didn’t want to be a doctor until after college, when he realized that being a fisheries biologist wouldn’t pay the rent. He became a PA in the 70s and then was an Army Medic with the National Guard. He is now board certified in occupational/environmental medicine and family and preventive medicine. He is also published, having created a team create a company management guide on conquering Malaria while in Angola. 

He worked at Chevron as general manager of health and medical services. Most recently, he was the center medical director for US Health Works in Scarborough.   

Through his experiences, he is a believer that “A little education goes a long way.”

The list of care Raymond RediCare offers is extensive. They can work with patients with eye injuries, body injuries, illness, rashes, broken bones and minor ailments. If someone enters with chest pains, they will call the ambulance to transport the person to Portland. 

The center also has a laser to treat a variety of issues from warts and toe fungus to acne and age spots. The laser work will be priced right for the area, said Wilkins. 

“We are sensitive to being able to serve people in a capacity that other people aren’t able to do,” said Wilkins. The X-ray table, which is coming next week, will have a 500 pound table limit and the scale goes to 600 pounds and registers height, weight and body mass index. All of the exam tables are ADA compliant and are wider and go lower than most tables. 

When a patient first arrives at the clinic he has his pulse and oxygen saturation checked, his blood pressure taken and all is done with state of the art machinery. 
The RediCare has the ability to check blood sugars and hemoglobin AIC quickly onsite. “We can do it inexpensively,” said Wilkins. He also has the ability to do urinalysis checking for 11 different categories. 

“Our high tech approach can bring services to people who wouldn’t typically access healthcare for lack of ability to pay,” Wilkins said. 

At this time Raymond RediCare only accepts two types of private insurance, but more will be added shortly. For now, the hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but Wilkins plans to extend hours. To contact them or to make an appointment, call 655-6181.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sedona Wellness& Creativity Center - By Michelle Libby

Since Sedona Wellness moved from North Windham to Raymond and changed its name to Sedona Wellness & Creativity Center, owner Lynn Priest and nail technician Beth O’Neill are offering more than massages, holistic healing and nail treatments. They are providing creative therapy through Art Night Out, a company based in South Portland, Maine. 
Every Wednesday night Priest sets up a space in her center to work with a group of people to create mini-works of art, wearable art. With silver and gold clasps, multiple colors of leather, beads in every shape and size spread out over the table. Up to 10 participants, men and women sort through the materials to make a personalized leather bracelet. 

It’s a community event with one person asking advice and everyone giving their opinion, strangers and friends alike. The mood is set with up tempo music, wine and some good ol’ art therapy.
“You’ve got to have patience, strength and wine,” said attendee Pat Einermann, who met Priest at the Naples Blues Festival earlier this summer and has already attended two classes. 

Priest went to Tuscon, Arizona in February with the creator of Art Night Out, Catherine Bickford. They attended a gem and jewelry show where Priest took15 classes in a week and a half, many of which she brought the projects back to her center for her clients.

“I spend time in Sedona as often as possible. There are shops in Sedona that sell crystals, do massage, I wanted (my shop) to be just like that,” Priest said. 

Priest is originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Her shop is exactly what she imagined, full of crystals, healing essential oils and jewelry she has made to sell. The comfortable atmosphere welcomes new clients and crafters and Priest is so friendly that one instantly feels at home. She also will explain all of her Art Night Out projects that are on display in case someone is interested in coming back. On a rotating basis she teaches the personalized leather bracelet, wire wrapped sea glass earrings, ice resin pendants, crocheted wire jewelry, basic beading and textured metal jewelry. Skill level doesn’t matter, although knowing how to crochet makes the crocheted wire jewelry project easier.  
The classes can be tailored to all ages and every Tuesday Priest does a class at Migis Lodge for its guests and can be reserved for a private gathering upon request.  

Art Night Out classes are Wednesday nights starting at 6 p.m. Other services offered at Sedona Wellness & Creativity Center are massage, Reiki Master/teacher, polarity therapy and crystal healing. O’Neill offers a variety of manicures and pedicures. New to the center is Psychic Jeri.  Jeri will be available by appointment to do readings on site as well as by phone.  You can see her information at

Sedona Wellness & Creativity Center can be found online at Links there will bring you to the Art Night Out page with descriptions of the projects.