Nestled within the quaint and historic town of New Gloucester is Pineland Farms.

If you haven’t been, it is a far cry from the one-time campus for the forgotten and feeble-minded. It is now a bustling community alive with 19 renovated buildings that house dozens of businesses, a conference center, a YMCA, as well as recreational and educational venues.

But it’s quickly evident that food production also plays a big role here, with the end results on display at the farm’s very active market and cafe. According to Brian Mailhot, director of Pineland Farms Market and Welcome Center, much of Pineland’s 5,000 acres is dedicated to agriculture — agriculture that ends up at the market in one form or another.

“We have a first-class dairy farm, with 160-plus milking Holsteins grazing on the rich grasslands,” he explains. “A creamery that’s a stone’s throw away from the dairy farm, making the key ingredient the freshest possible, and an award-winning cheese maker who approaches his craft as an art form. We also raise golden comet hens, providing us with organic eggs, and a bakery making a large assortment of fresh breads, muffins and desserts.”

High-quality fruits and vegetables are also cared for, harvested and sold at the market.

“We purchased Gillepsie Farms in 2004, and the farm continues to grow numerous fruits and veggies, including asparagus, green beans, winter squash, raspberries, strawberries and pumpkins. With three generations of stewardship by the Gillespie family, our farm’s sustainable agricultural practices assure the finest seasonal produce available,” says Mailhot.

The campus is also home to Olivia’s Garden, which is a privately owned, state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse yielding high-quality produce, including beefsteak tomatoes, baby European cucumbers and basil.

With so many treasures being raised, grown and produced on site or nearby, it was only natural to open a market at the Welcome Center.

“In 2004 we began our retail operations with a small farm stand across from the Equestrian Center here on Route 231,” says Mailhot. “We sold seasonal produce grown here on our farmland as well as other items from local farmers and vendors. In 2008 our retail operation moved to our year-round market, and we had a major expansion in 2012. We’ve been fortunate to have so much support from our customers, and our business continues to grow.”

Walking in, the market almost has an outdoor feel to it, with its open ceiling, sunshine and brickwork. And a rainbow of fresh produce including blueberries, strawberries and golden corn continue to draw you in.

“If it’s grown locally, there’s a good chance we have it,” says Mailhot. “Everything from asparagus to zucchini and blueberries to strawberries. We also supplement our selection with items that we can’t grow locally, like bananas and mangoes. ”

Browsing through the market , visitors will quickly find it is much more than a farm stand.

“There isn’t much you can’t check off on your list here,” Mailhot notes. “There are all kinds of grocery items, unique cooking aides and gifts for all ages.”

Cheese is a particular source of pride at Pineland Farms. “Our dairy cattle, as well as milk from 14 area farmers, make Pineland the largest cheese producer in Maine,” says Mailhot. “There is a wide selection to choose from . . . cheddar and sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, smoked cheddar, baby Swiss, feta and even a large array of spreads.”

Pineland Farms Natural Meats brand supplies the beef for the market, which is all sold frozen in individual packages. The cattle have never received hormones, steroids or animal by-products.

“We pride ourselves on producing the highest quality natural beef that is simply delicious, tender and melts in your mouth. We also carry other meats from Maine companies, including chicken and turkey from Maine-ly Poultry in Warren and pork from Sonnental Dairy in Smyrna,” Mailhot explains.

Among the many other products for sale at the market are locally produced jellies and jams.

“There’s blueberry, raspberry and strawberry jam. The berries are grown (on) our fields or local farms and processed at Pemberton’s Gourmet Foods in Gray. . . . We give them the berries and they do all the rest,” Mailhot says.

The market also has a deli and cafe, with a staff that makes soups, salads and sandwiches using many items sourced just yards away. And if meat is to your liking, the kitchen uses Boar’s Head Premium deli meats. Soups of the day may include apple butternut squash or chicken tortilla.

The deli offers “create your own” sandwiches with hundreds of combinations or you can order from the 10 specialty sandwiches on the menu, including:

* The Almost Thanksgiving: turkey, red onion, stuffing, cranberry horseradish and mayo;

* Sally’s Turkey Salad: Boar’s Head turkey mixed with mayo, celery, onion, cranberries, walnuts, and a splash of orange juice;

* And the Sun Butter & Jelly sandwich: your choice of bread, organic, sugar-free sunflower seed butter and Pineland Farms’ strawberry or blueberry jam.

The deli also has plenty of side dishes, including red bliss potato salad and Caesar tortellini salad. “And desserts from the bakery such as whoopie pies, cupcakes and co-co chewies are always on hand,” says Mailhot, noting that the menu can be viewed online and orders can be faxed straight to the kitchen for easy pick up.”

Caesar’s tortellini salad

Ingredients:

20 ounces refrigerated or frozen cheese tortellini

1 cup Pineland Farms fresh cheddar cheese curd (or mozzarella), roughly chopped

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half

1 small stick of pepperoni, casing removed, cut into 1/2-inch slices, halved

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped

2/3 cup creamy Caesar dressing

Instructions:

Cook tortellini according to package directions.

Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again.

While the tortellini is cooling add curd, pepperoni, tomatoes and basil to a large mixing bowl.

Add dressing and then gently toss in the cooled tortellini.

Add salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Co-Co Chewies

Ingredients:

6 cups confectioners’ sugar

1-1/3 cups good quality cocoa power

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 egg whites

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

2-1/2 cups chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In mixing bowl or stand mixer combine sugar, cocoa and salt.

Add egg whites and vanilla extract and combine.

Add chocolate chips and combine.

Using an ice cream scoop or large serving spoon, scoop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Spray parchment with non-stick cooking spray first. Make only about four cookies per sheet, because the dough will spread.

Bake for about 14 minutes.

Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then move to a cooling rack.

Cookies will be crispy on the edge and fudgy in the middle.

Yields about 18 cookies.

Pineland Farms ‘Famished Farmer’ sandwich

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 fresh garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (medium grind)

3.5 ounces thinly sliced Boar’s Head turkey breast

2 slices of Pineland Farms Swiss cheese

3.5 ounces Boar’s Head thinly sliced deli ham

2 slices Pineland Farms Monterey Jack cheese

Sliced dill pickle, tomato and a lettuce of your choice

2 slices of Pineland Farms honey whole wheat bread

Instructions:

Mix mayonnaise, garlic and black pepper.

Spread evenly on both slices of bread.

On bottom slice, layer in order: turkey, Swiss, ham, Jack, pickle, tomato and lettuce.

Top with second slice.

Pineland Farms Market and Deli

15 Farm Drive, New Gloucester

Open every day 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sandwiches served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

688-4539

Shop online at pinelandfarms.org/our-market


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