Modern Farmer: Could you tell us a little about Turner Farm?
Amy Peterson: We are located on North Haven Island, about 12 miles off the coast of Maine. The population here is less than 400 year round and in the summer it is about 1200. The island is a major part of who we are. Getting anything to or from the island, including our livestock, either comes by boat or plane. The farm was bought originally in the 1780s by the Thomas family. The last time it was actively farmed, prior to us, was in the 1940s. It has gone through ups and downs as an actual farm. We have been under the current ownership since 2008.
MF: Was it your decision to join Instagram for the farm?
AP: I started the account last spring. I wanted to get the word out about what we were doing, because we are so isolated by nature. We have a lot of people who come here in the summer, but we are a four-season farm. We are working year round here, and if it is not summer, people don’t see. I thought it would be a great way to connect not only with other farmers, but with people who are in the food industry. The state of Maine has been a pretty big part of the local farm to table movement. There are all kinds of restaurants and caterers that are trying to source from Maine. I thought it would be a great way to reach out to people who may not know we are here.
MF: So for you it was more of a marketing tool?
“There are quite a few farms on the island and it was a good way to connect with others on a regular basis and show what we are doing.”
AP: Well and an education and community-building tool. The island here is a pretty tight knit community. There are quite a few farms on the island and it was a good way to connect with others on a regular basis and show what we are doing.
MF: How has the connecting been with other farms? We know Transition Farms, our guests last week, contacted you about microgreens.
AP: A pretty neat connection was that our vegetable and flower grower and our flower designer were both following a florist. They were really inspired by her posts and wound up attending a workshop of hers in Philadelphia last fall.
MF: You take all the pictures for the Instagram. You must be out in the field a lot then.
AP: I take pictures every day. There is a lot going on here. We have a vegetable crew, I can go find them. Every Thursday we do barn suppers, which is as farm to table as you could get. That is easy to take pictures of because it is so beautiful and fun. I try to steer clear of the poultry processing scene, while keeping it as educational as I can. We have such a variety of livestock. There is always something going on.
(This interview has been edited and condensed.)
(All photos courtesy of Turner Farm)