Summertime and the living is easy. Unless, of course, you live in Maine, and then someone is always stopping by for a visit. It’s life in “Vacationland” and you’re the host of somebody else’s vacation.

How do you prepare for the unexpected guests who drop in while driving by? If you’re Heidi Klingelhofer, the owner of Five Islands Farm store, the key is a well-stocked pantry, some local fresh fruits and vegetables, a few bottles of wine and lots of local Maine cheeses.

Her store, located on the picturesque Five Islands side of Georgetown, is just about the size of a pantry. But don’t let the store’s diminutive 14-feet-by-22-feet dimensions fool you. Beyond the patio of plants and garden statuary and just behind the French doors is a well-stocked and carefully arranged treasure chest of delicious provisions. They range from essentials like coffee, tea and wine, to a random (and decadent) splurge, such as a frozen three-berry pie from The Maine Pie Co. in Biddeford to pop in the oven at the first knock of visitors. And cheeses. But we’ll get to that later.

Minding her store off the beaten path has been a labor of love born of adversity for Klingelhofer.

Originally from Peoria, Ill., Klingelhofer moved to Maine 20 years ago. She and her husband, cabinetmaker Scott Smith, bought a 1790s house on a former working farm. Heidi commuted to the Portland Jetport for her job with United Airlines until the terror attacks of 9/11 and the industry consolidations that followed.

She lost her job.

One day following the loss, she was down at the Five Islands Town Wharf. Some boaters pulled in looking for the store that had once been there. Klingelhofer said the store was listed in all the cruising guides, and not everyone knew of its closure. “We need limes and butter,” the boaters told her.

Since she had those things in her refrigerator, she ran to her house up the road and brought them back for the boaters. The incident was the beginning of an entrepreneurial exploration for Klingelhofer as she considered whether she could build a successful business centered on ready-to-go meals.

“When I started, I called the Maine Department of Agriculture,” she said. “I wanted to do meals and picnics, ready-to-go. In order to do that, I would have had to have a commercial kitchen and that would have been cost prohibitive for me.”

She continued to brainstorm and heard a lot of “no, you can’t do that.” Finally, after hearing a number of no’s, all that remained was what was possible. She credits the Department of Agriculture for its helpfulness during this process. “The Department of Agriculture . . . is something this state should be so proud of. They are problem solvers.”

She opened Five Islands Farm store in 2002, and since then the location has become more than just a summer business. Klingelhofer said it’s “useful to the entire community. And this community is amazing. They’ve been so good to us since we moved here.” Every summer, she said, residents continue to embrace her idea and support the store.

A typical summer day starts early for Klingelhofer. Because of her location, she picks up most of her goods directly from producers. One of her regular stops includes Belanger’s Farm in Lewiston. They provide all the produce Five Islands Farm sells, including sweet corn. “Everyone on the island knows Rick’s sweet corn,” she said of Rick Belanger’s summer favorite.

The next stop on her route might be Caldwell Family Farm in Turner, providing natural grass-fed beef products. She said their beef reminds her of the type she grew up eating from the farms surrounding Peoria.

Her last (and not least) stop could be Spring Day Creamery in Durham to pick up some award-winning “Spring Day Blues” or “La Vie en Rose” cheese.

Klingelhofer is a self-professed “cheese nut.” She gets a twinkle in her eye when she starts talking about it. “I’ve loved cheese since I was a little girl,” she said. “I don’t know where it came from. I was named Heidi, maybe that’s what did it,” she mused. “When I was a kid, if someone would try to give me a slice of yellow American cheese, my eyes would get large and I’d say ‘That’s not cheese, I want cheese.’”

Over time, she’s developed a passion and a palate for cheese and offers lots of it at her farm store, most of it from producers in Maine. She said Maine cheese makers are “creating things that are the closest things to” European cheeses. Klingelhofer’s passion for promoting Maine cheeses extends beyond buying and selling. She’s currently a board member of the Maine Cheese Guild and every Friday from 2 to 4 p.m., she hosts a tasting featuring a different local cheese.

The next time Vacationland visitors knock on your door, take a tip from Heidi Klingelhofer. “You use what you have, you create something that’s not pretentious and it’s just delicious. You create fellowship.”

And don’t forget the cheese.

Julie-Ann Baumer lives, cooks and writes from her home in Lisbon Falls. Read her blog www.julieannbaumer.com or follow her on twitter @aunttomato.

Heidi Klingelhofer’s ‘Easy Lunch on a Boat’

A pint of fresh cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (a 14-ounce can of drained cherry or diced tomatoes can be used if fresh is not available)

14-ounce can of drained cannellini beans

5 ounces of undrained white tuna in olive oil

2 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled

Herbs, salt and pepper to taste

Combine tomatoes, beans, tuna, feta, herbs and spices in a bowl.

“Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the top and you’ve got lunch,” says Klingelhofer.

A typical summer day starts early for Heidi Klingelhofer. Because of her location, she picks up most of her goods directly from producers. One of her regular stops includes Belanger’s Farm in Lewiston. They provide all the produce Five Islands Farm sells, including sweet corn. “Everyone on the island knows Rick’s sweet corn,” she said of Rick Belanger’s summer favorite.

Five Islands Farm

Heidi Klingelhofer, owner 

1375 Five Islands Road, Georgetown

Phone: 207-371-9383

Hours: Open every day at 10:30 a.m. Closing times vary.

Friday Food Forays: Every Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. featuring Maine cheeses.

Online at www.fiveislandsfarm.com


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