We all love going to the farmers' markets, but there's still something about farmstands — getting out of the city a tad, being near the land that produced what you're buying, smelling the sweet manure-tinged air, chatting with the farmhands who keep everything running. If you're lucky, and if it's a slow day, a trip to a farmstand can easily become a tour of the entire farming operation. Portland is lucky to have such an opportunity right on the peninsula.
At the Urban Farm Fermentory, Eli Cayer and a small cadre of locabev devotees are brewing hard cider and mead, but what's most interesting is what else is going on in that space: urban farming on a remarkable scale.
In the shop itself there's a large tank raising tilapia, a very popular aquaculture species because of its tastiness, rapid growth, and meat yield per unit of food. Out back it gets even more interesting, though — David Homa and some helpers are transforming what used to be a freight railway bed into a very urban farm. The rails, still evident behind the building (itself a former railway depot), help organize the 1000-plus square feet of space, reclaimed from scrub-brush overgrowth and now home to a compost pile, a greenhouse, a trellis for climbing plants, and class sessions about urban farming. There's always something more happening back there in this corner of rural Maine, created atop the remains of its largest city's industrial heyday. Go, buy, tour.
Urban Farm Fermentory | 200 Anderson St, Bay 4, Portland