NEW GLOUCESTER — On secluded Woodman Road, there’s a sprawling farm, 3½ businesses and one industrious family.

Julie and Michael Fralich have a double-yurt rental at Norumbega Farm that hit Airbnb this summer to rave reviews. Their son, Noah, presses and bottles commercial hard cider from one of their barns.

And they run a new high-tech electric bike rental business from yet another barn, one that houses horses and stock from daughter Laura’s Queen Beet Designs. Her T-shirts are made off-property but sold there and on Etsy and feature vegetable-theme slogans like, “Stand up and take chard!”

“I think we just like being part of our community,” said Julie Fralich, 64. “It also helps to have things we can do from our farm — we don’t have to go anywhere.”

Michael, 65, has a fourth enterprise a mile up the road, co-founding Healing Through Horses, an equine-assisted psychotherapy program. He rides horses Cyna or PJ to work twice a week.

The couple brought the 300-acre property in 1976 and built their home on one of its hills in 1983. They spent years designing seven miles of trails, which they’ve dubbed Norumbega Trails and keep open to the walking and dog-walking public.


Michael Fralich feels like he’s seeing more people he doesn’t know in their woods of late.

“I love bumping into folks that are enjoying this place that is so special to us,” he said.

The couple raises pigs, turkeys, chickens and laying hens and originally built their first yurt 10 years ago as a fun place to enjoy with their kids. After Julie retired from the Muskie School of Public Service last year, she said they started to eye it as potential rental income. Up went a second yurt, along with a connecting deck, and they dubbed the pair Peace and Quiet — one to sleep in, the other to cook in.

The insides are rustic with lots of wood, board games and plenty of flashlights to find your way in the dark to the shower and composting toilet outside.

Many customers this first season, which ended in late October, came from New York. Most reservations came through Airbnb. Peace and Quiet have already drawn a wide array to the New Gloucester woods, from a Harvard Medical School bachelorette party to a women’s hockey team from Vermont.

“We have been booked every weekend since the middle of July, which is when we started,” Julie said.


Workshops and events are planned for the yurts in the off-season.

Noah, 31, started making commercial hard cider on the property in 2013. He’s also been planting apple trees which aren’t bearing fruit yet.

His Norumbega Cidery ciders, available locally at Rooper’s, come in four flavors: classic, spice, berry medley and honey.

“It was something that appealed for a lot of reasons,” he said. 

He likes working with the land and studied sustainable agriculture. Last year, Noah made 2,800 gallons of hard cider, due in part to a bumper apple crop, many of which come from Thompson’s Orchard up the road.

He presses apples in the fall and starts bottling in the spring, giving it time to ferment.


“I don’t necessarily like to have problems, but problem-solving is something I enjoy,” Noah said. Though his father pitches in when he needs help, the mostly one-man work can be, no surprise, a little solitary: “I listen to a lot of NPR, let’s put it that way.”

The Fralich’s new bike business, Norumbega Green Rentals, also started with a personal twist: Julie bought an electric bike for herself to help navigate the local hills two years ago. Michael bought one so he could ride to the cider house or get around the farm quickly for chores.

Like the yurts, the bikes also have country-inspired names: Fern, Pine, Moss and Forest.

“They won’t go anywhere until you start peddling,” he said.

But, if the rider keeps peddling, the Stromer bikes, run on lithium batteries, do the bulk of the work.

“Every time we put someone on it, they squeal,” Julie said.


Their four bikes are rented in four-hour blocks. Outlet Beach and its gourmet snack shack have been a popular nearby destination by bike.

As for all the swirling farm activity, “We’ve got a rhythm of our own,” said Julie. “The apple cider has its own rhythm and the yurts have their own rhythm and the animals all are ongoing and I think they mesh together pretty well.”

And when they’re after actual rhythm: The couple runs the Village Coffeehouse inside the First Congregational-Christian Church in New Gloucester the first Saturday of the month with musical guests September through June.

“Seeing (the farm) with others and seeing it through other’s eyes — that just freshens up the magic for me,” Michael said. 

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