NEW SHARON — Scott and Dawn Mulcahy try to work their land in harmony with nature at Jireh Hill Farms. 

When asked about the farm name, Scott said Jireh means provider. Reference to Jehovah-Jireh is made in the Bible’s Book of Genesis.

The Mulcahys graze a plot of land with their cattle first, then allow their flock of chickens access to the plot after the cattle are moved to a new area. The chickens eat insects and weed seeds before their pigs are let loose to root in the soil.

The pigs eat any remaining vegetation above ground but also consume plant materials below the surface. In the process, they also aerate the soil. “Pigs are natural rototillers,” Scott said. Manure left behind by all three species helps provide nutrients for the vegetables that eventually are planted there.

The couple, originally from Rhode Island and Michigan, wanted to get back to the east coast. Scott had been an area manager for a national retailer but was concerned with the nation’s food supply and how it was being produced. His parents moved to Maine and when his company offered a buy out program, he took advantage of it to move with his wife and four children to Whittier Road, just off of Route 41, in New Sharon.

Scott read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Mike Poulin and is modeling his farm after Polyface Farm in Virginia. “People are beginning to wake up. They want to know what they are eating,” Scott said. Dawn added, “People should know where their food is coming from.”

The Mulcahys produce rabbits for meat and fur production. Some are sold for pets. The rabbit hutches are kept in the larger of the farm’s two greenhouses during the cold winter months.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares are offered at Jireh Hill Farms for vegetables, eggs, meat, or pig meat only. Two sizes are available for each type of share to best fit customer needs. “The CSAs are taking off. Word is starting to spread,” Scott said.

The farm has a northern route covering Bangor, Bar Harbor, and Mt. Desert Island. A southern route goes down to Elliot with stops in Portland, Falmouth, Scarborough, and the greater Auburn area. Deliveries are made on Wednesday and Friday.

Last year, people had to pay extra for delivery. This year, the farm will be offering free delivery. Those that wish may still pick up their shares at the farm. Jireh Hill Farms also offers a referral program. For every referral made, a customer gets 10 percent off the cost of his or her CSA share.

Jireh Hill Farms is also offering a compost program this year. Each week when a CSA share is delivered, a bucket will be dropped off as well. The bucket filled with food scraps will be picked up during the next delivery. Collected materials will then be composted for use in flower beds at the farm.

Social media is helping to spread the word about Jireh Hill Farms. Dawn is amazed at how many people follow it. Some customers are even offering their homes as drop off points for others in that area as a result.

The Mulcahys know that the price of cheap food is much higher realistically than it would appear. Their meat CSAs offer pork, beef, lamb and chicken mixed up each month. Higher end cuts as well as hamburg and sausage are included. They use a smoking process certified by MOFGA.

Jireh Hill Farms plans to expand its farmstand this year. Goat milk soaps, candles and other products will be offered this year. Scott has built a bar-top beehive to help pollinate his gardens and produce honey.

Many of the seedlings used on the farm are started in a germination room in the family home. Some are purchased. Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Fedco, and Seed Savers Exchange are the farm’s primary seed sources. Some of the bigger seeds are also saved to plant next year.

Dawn said, “We use innovative, creative ways of doing things on the farm.” Barley seeds are soaked for 24 hours, then watered three times daily. In seven days, a thick grass is produced that is then fed to the animals. “They devour it in winter,” she said. There are nutrients in the sprouts that aren’t gotten elsewhere.

Jireh Hill Farms has 140 acres. Two spots have been cleared. At some point, the Mulcahys hope to add berries and flowers to their production.

They use companion planting methods and their daughters get involved with that. The children also help with kidding and bottle feeding the baby goats. Baby chicks are being kept in the house until the weather warms up.

Scott built one greenhouse on the farm. He bent the support rods himself and also built a rocket stove to heat the greenhouse “It was a good family project,” he said. The couple used an NRCS program to help build a second, larger greenhouse.

Several vegetable varieties are allowed to grow in the greenhouse before being transplanted into an outdoor garden. Others are grown in raised beds directly in the greenhouse. 

The Mulcahys have no farming background. No pesticides, herbicides, or antibiotics are used on their farm. Their methods are as holistic as possible.

They are fortunate to have found a farm without rocks on it. The sandy soil can be a problem in dry years. There has often been a long learning curve along the way but Scott said, “I only make a mistake once.”

For more information on Jireh Hill Farms, visit their website, http://www.jirehhillfarms.com/ or call 207-578-2324.

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